Uncanny Casserole

Thanksgiving as we know it is an entirely modern phenomenon. Nearly every element is so far removed from the original harvest, the original pilgrims and native Americans would find the spread entirely unrecognizable. The “classic” dinner menu is more of a marketing ploy than historical homage, after all. The indispensable green bean casserole is the best example on the table.

Invented by none other than the crafty Campbell Soup Company, it hit the holiday scene in 1955 as a thrifty way to utilize canned goods. As canning technology picked up following WWII and the end of rationing, hapless housewives needed guidance on how best to work with these novel tin cans. The green bean casserole called for just six ingredients, minimal prep, and a short cook time; perfect for a party.

Quite frankly, I never saw the appeal. Mushy green beans with mushy mushrooms baked until they’re mushier? Yum…! Despite that, I’m in clearly in the minority, as the infamous casserole graces the table for over 20 millions Americans every Thanksgiving. This year, I was determined to take back the green bean casserole on my own terms.

For starters, let’s lose the cans. Modern innovations mean that fresh fruits and vegetables are no longer out of reach, no matter the season. Crisp, snappy green beans retain their crunch through a flash fry without oil, but the favorite kitchen toy of our generation: The air fryer.

Freed from their tomb of mushroom goop, the beans get a light coating of crushed fried onions in this festive twist on green bean fries. Better than breading, it infuses savory flavor into every crunchy bite, while providing a naturally gluten-free alternative to bland old breadcrumbs.

Now these slender green dippers can take center stage as an appetizer before the main event, or stand up to competition on the dinner plate as a truly stellar side. Don’t forget to whip up an extra batch of rich gravy for dunking to your heart’s content.

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Be Thankful for Small Mushrooms

Taking a moment to pause and appreciate our good fortune is something we should really do all year round, but Thanksgiving is the only national holiday that calls for such mindfulness. As a celebration of a successful harvest, seasonal produce takes center stage, but that doesn’t always mean that fresh is best for every ingredient.

Believe it or not, dried Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms are a wiser choice than fresh for numerous reasons. They have much greater longevity, better flavor, and enhanced nutritional attributes.

By removing the moisture, they’re naturally preserved to keep longer, without the need for refrigeration, making them an indispensable pantry staple. Fresh mushrooms must be kept in the fridge for about a week, two at the most, while dried Sugimoto shiitake will keep perfectly at room temperature at least a year, springing back life as good as new when needed.

Long used in eastern medicines as natural supplements, shiitake mushrooms are rich in many vitamins and nutrients, but only when dried can those elements be concentrated and better absorbed. The drying process breaks down proteins into amino acids and transforms ergosterol to vitamin D.

Of course, most importantly for their culinary value, Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms are incredibly delicious because the drying and rehydrating process produces guanylate, a natural umami enhancer. Guanylate amplifies the umami taste of all foods, making dishes richer, bolder, and simply better.

That’s a whole lot to be thankful for right there. It should go without saying that these powerful little mushrooms definitely deserve a place of honor at your Thanksgiving table. I’ve got the perfect dish to grace your menu right here.

We’ve already talked about the best stuffed mushrooms, so what about… Mushroom stuffing? This one isn’t designed to be stuffed into a bird, of course. Some would say that it’s more accurate to call it “dressing” if that’s the case, but that’s an even more confusing title, if you ask me. Dressing is a liquid condiment meant to coat and flavor various side dishes, not something to eat as the side dish itself! Semantics aside, this is a dish that’s essential for any holiday feast.

Tangy, crusty sourdough creates a hearty foundation for this autumnal treat. Perfumed with savory herbs and umami mushrooms, one whiff could tide you over, at least until the meal is served. Chewy and soft in the center, saturated with stock while crowned with crisp, crunchy, toasted edges, each bite is a study in contrasts. Don’t forget the nutty flavor of caramelized browned butter infused into every soft cube of bread, adding luxurious layers of umami into a simple casserole dish.

There are many ways to make great stuffing, or dressing, if you prefer, but shiitake mushrooms should always make the guest list. This is the secret ingredient for an unforgettable feast that everyone will talk about for years to come.

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The Everyday Vegan Cheat Sheet

There is no such thing as too many cookbooks when it comes to practical, trustworthy recipes than both comfort and inspire. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but I’ve got the cheat sheet for sure-fire hits every single meal. It all starts with a sheet pan, and my upcoming cookbook, The Everyday Vegan Cheat Sheet!

Move over, one-pot meals: Sheet pans are here to stay! Offering ease, speed, and minimal clean-up, unlock a diverse array of bold flavors and satisfying textures with this essential kitchen staple. While there’s a certain charm to slowly simmered stews bubbling away on the stove, a relentless parade of mushy mains quickly loses its appeal. Banish boredom from the dinner table with over one hundred tried and true recipes for success. It’s time to put the stock pot away and start pre-heating the oven.

Bring back nostalgic favorites like plant-based meatloaf, prepared alongside buttery mashed cauliflower. Bake up bulgogi with broccoli that’s even better than takeout. Prepare pancakes for a crowd without flipping a single silver dollar. Heck, you can even mac it out with the creamiest, cheesiest mac and cheese ever, no boil, no fuss, no regrets.

For new cooks and seasoned chefs alike, there are tips and tricks for making the most of your ingredients throughout the year. Endless options for variations keep these formulas fresh, flexible, and adaptable to all taste and dietary preferences.

Eat well every day. You really can have it all with just one pan.

Pre-order your copy today!

Breakfast of Champions

Who says noodles aren’t for breakfast? The mere idea that any food is off limits at a certain hour of the day is enough to send me into a fit of rage. No one’s going to tell me what I can and cannot eat without explanation. While Americans are more likely to reach for cereal or toast, noodles are established in Asian cultures as a reliable staple starch to fill that same void. It goes well beyond reheated leftovers, like finding yesterday’s pizza in the fridge for a quick fix. There’s a reason why ramen shops open at 7am in Tokyo, and it’s not just for a cup of green tea.

When I saw the Fortune Noodle Blogger Recipe Challenge had only two categories for entries, I knew right away what I needed to make. You could submit a stir-fry, or “for your creative side, create a Fortune Noodles breakfast recipe.” I could almost see the smirk on that smug face, daring me to step out of line. The gauntlet had been thrown down.

Inspired by a combination of Japanese okonomiyaki and Korean buchimgae, my crispy noodle pancakes aren’t the type you’d slather with butter and drown in maple syrup, but a more savory morning entree. Bound by an eggy chickpea flour batter, they’re almost like little omelets with chewy yaki soba inside. Laced with carrots and scallions, they’re simple and comforting, quick and easy, and completely adaptable to any taste preferences.

If you want something spicier to really wake up your taste buds, try using the Hot and Spicy flavor noodles and swap out the shredded carrots for roughly chopped kimchi. Amp up your veggie intake by adding a handful of peas or corn into the mix. Top things of with sliced avocado or guacamole if you can’t face the day without your beloved avo toast. In fact, try all of the above, all at once! The only way you can go wrong is if you don’t embrace breakfast noodles to begin with.

Not a morning person? Don’t worry, these are perfect to make in advance! Just cook as directed, let cool, and then pop them in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 – 7 days. Pop them in the toaster oven or air fryer to reheat in minutes. For long term storage, you could even toss them in the freezer to keep for up to 6 months, though I seriously doubt they’ll stick around that long.

I strongly believe that noodles are, and always have been, the true breakfast of champions. Hopefully the judges agree with me! Check out more inspiration from JSL Foods via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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Viva Vegetariana

Fledgling vegans are spoiled for choice, without ever realizing it. Beyond the obvious conveniences of readily available meatless meals in both restaurants and grocery stores, newbies might not know that the entire cookbook section has been turned upside down in the past decade. In fact, that distinct lack of vegan baking books is what motivated me to write My Sweet Vegan to begin with.

Compared to Nava Atlas, however, I was still late to the party. Truly a pioneer in the culinary world, activism, literature, and art, Vegetariana first hit bookshelves in 1984, before I was even born. It’s unbelievable how far we’ve come since then, thanks in no small part to such bold moves. Now, 37 years later, Nava’s premier work encompassing recipes, food lore, and imaginative illustrations has been reborn for a whole new generation of compassionate cooks.


Reprinted with permission from Vegetariana by Nava Atlas

While I’ve often flippantly declared that I could never use a cookbook without photos, Vegetariana has made me eat those words, along with a wide assortment of sweet and savory delights. Nava brings these recipes to life with her incredibly artful drawings and stories, giving them even greater presence on the page than a mere snapshot could allow.

These recipes have truly stood the test of time. Tested and tasted again and again, over the course of nearly four decades, they’ve been polished like diamonds, each one a culinary jewel. I’ve had the great fortune of working with Nava for a mere quarter of this book’s lifetime and can easily attest to this fact. Not once have I hit a single dud through the course of our collaborations.

Given such extensive experience with Nava’s work, it’s hard to pick even a dozen favorites from the bunch. Tofu Rancheros make eggs obsolete in this upgraded Tex-Mex standard. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, there’s no time I would ever turn down a heaping helping.

Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup could soothe the soul better than any scrawny chicken. Tangy and tart, sweet and soft, every spoonful is bright, full of vibrant flavors the belie such a simple preparation. Humble, affordable, and accessible ingredients are transformed into exquisite creations with minimal effort.

Speaking of fast favorites, Quinoa Sloppy Joe or Taco Filling is the all-purpose meatless stuffing for any lonely bun, bread, or tortilla you’ve got on hand. Made for one or an unexpected hoard of visitors, it scales easily, keeps beautifully, and reheats like a champ.


Reprinted with permission from Vegetariana by Nava Atlas

Prepare to add a whole new collection of instant hits to your standard recipe arsenal. Nava Atlas has been so generous to kick-start that inspiration by giving away three copies of Vegetariana to those hungry for comfort food, and food for thought.

To enter, leave me a comment below about your favorite go-to recipe. What’s the dish that you’ve made a hundred times, and could easily make a hundred times more? Don’t forget to come back and fill out the entry form to log your submission, and unlock a number of additional methods to rack up extra entries.

Vegetariana: A Rich Harvest of Wit, Lore, and Recipes by Nava Atlas