Rice to Riches

Risotto is an Italian specialty that is a universally comforting dish. Creamy, tender rice simmered with vegetables and a savory stock define the dish, but there’s so much room for interpretation beyond those basics. Proving that point, traditional Japanese ingredients are the secret to making a richer, healthier, and even easier version than the original.

Sugimoto Shiitake are the secret to creating a world of umami that’s completely plant-based. You could just hydrate them and toss in a few meaty chunks to dress up the dish, but with a little finesse, you can bring out the full potential of this key ingredient.

How Can You Maximize Your Mushrooms?

  • For the sake of thrift and flavor, save all of that shiitake-infused soaking water as part of the cooking liquid, just for starters. It should be a crime to toss such savory stock.
  • Once fully hydrated, slowly roast the sliced caps over low heat to concentrate the flavors while enhancing their toothsome, chewy texture. The edges begin to caramelize and crisp while the centers remain lusciously tender.
  • A light dusting of Sugimoto shiitake powder drives the umami bus home. Who needs truffles when you can coax out many of those same woodsy, nutty, and earthy notes from a much more attainable source?
  • Stash those stems away for safe keeping. We don’t need them for this recipe, but they’re ideal for other meals, such as tacos, chopped cheese sandwiches, and more.

The very best risotto blurs cultural boundaries, blending the best of eastern and western cuisine. Risotto was born from Arab influence in the first place, since they’re to thank for introducing rice to Italy during the Middle Ages.

Why Do Japanese Ingredients Work Best in Risotto?

  • Sushi Rice: Rather than more expensive arborio or carnaroli rice, sushi rice is the most affordable short grain I can find. It’s readily available in bulk, but even more importantly from a culinary stand point, maintains a satisfying al dente bite while creating an effortlessly creamy sauce out of any excess liquid. I find it’s less temperamental to cook, demanding less active stirring to yield the same great results.
  • Mirin: Standing in for classic white wine, the base of mirin is sake, which is also fermented from rice and thus more harmonious overall. Sugar is added for a light, balanced sweetness that enhances other flavors without overwhelming the dish.
  • Miso: Subtly funky, salty, and savory, I simply can’t get enough miso. White miso contributes a more delicate flavor to this dish, creating tanmi without even trying.
  • Wasabi: Bright and peppery, bold enough to cut through the richness, wasabi is an optional addition depending on your spice tolerance. You only need a tiny bit for the right touch of contrast.

That’s just talking about the base here. Things get really exciting when you consider the endless seasonal variations that are possible. You could easily eat a different risotto every day of the year and never grow bored.

First, let’s start with spring.

Celebrate the season of renewal with fresh green vegetables, like asparagus, snap peas, green peas, or artichoke hearts. If you forage, look for fiddle head ferns or morel mushrooms. Finish it off with tender young sprouts, microgreens, or delicate herbs like chives and dill.

Summer brings a rainbow of produce…

…but it’s impossible to consider the options without mentioning tomatoes first. Cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, or beefsteak tomatoes; there are no bad tomatoes here. Pair them with sweet corn kernels, zucchini or yellow squash, bell peppers, eggplants, okra, or wax beans. Basil is a must, if you ask me, although hot sauce or pickled jalapeños could be a nice way to spice things up.

When the weather begins to grow colder for fall…

…hardier vegetables come into play. Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, chestnuts, turnips, and beets are at the top of my list. Bear in mind that this roster needs to be cooked before joining the party, so plan on roasting them on a separate sheet pan while the shiitake mushrooms caramelize.

Winter can be tough.

In some cases, it’s a time of scarcity, muted colors, and dampened flavors. Don’t let that outdoor chill take the warmth out of your food! Consider carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and dark leafy greens like kale, collards, and Swiss chard. This is a perfect opportunity to break out the dried herbs to add some soulful rosemary, sage, and/or thyme to bolster that comforting broth. Top it off with toasted nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, or pecans for a crunchy, satisfying finish.

Even if you just stick with the plain, simple shiitake foundation, you’re in for a heady umami experience. Vegan cheese is optional, though recommended for extra richness, guaranteed to push it over the edge into the realm of everyday decadence. Make a half batch to impress a hot date, double up to serve the whole family, or make it just as is for yourself and relish the leftovers all week.

Risotto is one of my favorite easy meals, and with this recipe, I bet it will become one of yours, too.

Continue reading “Rice to Riches”

Que Pasta?

Some foods are just better in concept than reality. Towering sandwiches built way beyond the capacity of an average mouth are sure to disgorge their fillings after even the most careful bites. Ice cream sundaes gleaming with a scoop of every flavor are guaranteed to melt into murky sludge, no matter how many spoons are digging in. Don’t even get me started on coleslaw so slick with mayonnaise that it could also pass for white cabbage soup.

All these disappointments are easily prevented, but 9 times out of 10, the basic construction is a recipe for failure. Seven layer dip is a top offender in my eyes, a frustration compounded by the potential of each flavorful new tier. Refried beans, salsa, cheese, guacamole, olives, lettuce, and herbs – What’s not to love? Well, let’s start with the physical impossibility of fitting all that goodness on top of one tortilla chip, defeating the whole purpose of that deliberate assembly. if you can manage dig down to the bottom without breaking said chip, you’ll be up to your knuckles in guacamole, which strikes me as a pretty serious party foul.

Perhaps we’ve just been thinking about this all wrong. Instead of serving as a starter, these flavorful layers are really meant for the main event. Trade that frilly shredded lettuce for more substantial fare like pasta, and we’ve got a game-changing entree on our hands.

Imagine if baked ziti went on a vacation to Mexico and came back with a fresh new lease on life. Emboldened with spicy enchilada sauce, this unconventional addition allows you full license to scoop out the entire stratified marvel in one satisfying serving.

Gluten-free Tresomega Nutrition noodles inspired this dinner time revelation thanks to their second annual blogger recipe contest. Made of organic quinoa, rice, and amaranth, these macaroni are one of the rare wheat-free varieties up to the task, remaining properly al dente when cooked with care.

Complex in flavor but not in preparation, you can speed through assembly with some easy food hacks, pull out all the stops with homemade staples, or mix and match depending on your preference- and patience. Most critical here is the creamy cashew-based cheese sauce, which has a subtle tang thanks to unsweetened yogurt and the subtle smoky spice of chipotle canned in adobo, but in a pinch, good old pepper jack style vegan cheese shreds will certainly do the trick. There’s no shame in make it mostly homemade; a little shortcut is better than not cooking at all, every single time.

Lose the chips and dip into a new favorite main dish with those same luscious savory layers. This bold new interpretation was built on a stronger foundation than those earlier models and will never let you down.

Yield: Makes 6 - 8 Servings

Seven-Layer Pasta Bake

Seven-Layer Pasta Bake

Imagine if baked ziti went on a vacation to Mexico and came back with a fresh new lease on life. Emboldened with spicy enchilada sauce, this unconventional addition allows you full license to scoop out the entire stratified marvel in one satisfying serving.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

Seven-Layer Pasta Bake

  • 1 (15.4-Ounce) Can Refried Pinto Beans or 1 3/4 Cups Homemade (See Following Recipe)
  • 8 Ounces Elbow or Penne Pasta
  • 1 (10-Ounce) Can Red Enchilada Sauce or Homemade (See Following Recipe)
  • 1 (14.5-Ounce) Can Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Drained
  • 1 - 2 Cups Vegan Cheese Shreds or Homemade Cheese Sauce (See Following Recipe)
  • 1 Cup Guacamole, Prepared or Homemade (See Following Recipe)
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Black Olives
  • 2 - 3 Scallions, Thinly Sliced

Unfried Refried Beans:

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, Minced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1 (14-Ounce Can) or 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Pinto Beans, Thoroughly Drained
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Cup Vegetable Stock

Instant Enchilada Sauce:

  • 1 (6-Ounce) Can Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Stock or Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Easy Chipotle Cheese Sauce:

  • 1 Cup Raw Cashews, Soaked in Hot Water for 1 - 2 Hours
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Plain Vegan Yogurt
  • 1 Chipotle Canned in Adobo Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 Cup Water

Basic Guacamole:

  • 2 Large, Ripe Avocados
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
  • 1 Jalapeno, Finely Minced (Optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 7 x 11-inch casserole pan. If possible, opt for glass to see all those lovely layers! Set aside.
  2. Set a large pot over high heat on the stove and bring approximately 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for only 6 minutes. It will be noticeably under-cooked, but that’s exactly what you want! If you cook it to al dente perfection now, it will get too soft after baking. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Begin the assembly process by smearing the refried beans evenly across the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. In a separate bowl, toss the par-cooked pasta with enchilada sauce, stirring well to coat, before evenly distributing the spicy noodles on top. Add the drained fire-roasted tomatoes next, followed by the vegan cheese shreds or sauce.
  4. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until hot all the way through and lightly browned on top.
  5. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before topping with dollops of guacamole, a sprinkle of black olives, and a final flurry of sliced scallions. Serve right away, while piping hot.
  6. If making all the individual components from scratch, start with the beans. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Once shimmering, add the onion and garlic, sauteing until aromatic and lightly browned. This should only take about 8 – 10 minutes, so don’t wander off!
  7. Add in the pinto beans, cumin, salt, and 1/4 cup of the vegetable stock next. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Take a potato masher and smash the beans into creamy submission, adding more stock if needed to reach the right consistency. Enjoy hot or let cool before storing an an air-tight container in the fridge, for up to a week.
  8. For the enchilada sauce, this is really a no-recipe sort of recipe that you could probably figure out by simply looking at the list of ingredients. All you need to do is whisk everything together until smooth and you’re good to go!
  9. For the cashew cheese, thoroughly drain the soaked cashews before tossing them into your blender with the yogurt, chipotle, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Begin blending on low speed, slowly ramping it up to high as the nuts are broken down. Pause to scrape down the sides of the container as needed, making sure that all the pieces are incorporated. Puree until completely smooth, drizzling in up to 1/4 additional water while running the motor if needed, to reach a silky, pourable consistency, somewhat like pancake batter.
  10. You can enjoy this all by itself as a simple queso dip or spicy cream sauce, but it can also be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days if not using immediately.
  11. Finally, in case you needed a refresher course on how to make guacamole… it’s okay. We all have days like that.
  12. Pit and peel your avocados, placing them in a medium bowl along with the onion, jalapeno (if you like it hot,) lime juice, and salt. Roughly mash with a fork or potato masher until creamy but still slightly chunky. Use or eat right away; guacamole is always best fresh.

Recommended Products

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experience with all of these companies and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 552Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 1001mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 16gSugar: 13gProtein: 21g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

Curry of Another Color

Glowing like a vibrant stoplight on the table, each bowlful of curry distinguishes itself with a visual warning, much like the markings of poisonous animals send out a visual alarm to all those who cross their paths. Stay away, or else, admonish the unworldly hues, seemingly more insistent and threatening when found in the boldest shades. For curry, quite the contrary, those alarm bells seem to be silent, and in fact beckon to gustatory fire-starters with their distinctive complexions. From the more mellow Indian yellow madras, the deceptively gentle browns of massaman, to the full spectrum of more fiery stews from Thailand in brilliant greens and reds, at least we only have ourselves to blame when our palates are set ablaze. The cautionary colors were all plain to see.

What then, if you came across a curry of another color, an entirely different beast altogether? Would the potential culinary danger be daunting, or a delicious challenge to face?

All hints of heat are hidden within that murky stew, concealed by a cloak of impenetrable darkness. Fresh vegetables light the way, promising a healthy and satisfying meal, but all other bets are off the table.

Darkened not by some flavorless edible dyes, but by the rich, pungent cloves of black garlic, this new breed balances out heat with a molasses-like sweetness, earthiness, and smoky character. All of that darkness conceals bright, bold pops of citrus and herbaceous cilantro, a stark but compelling contrast to those initial base notes.

Once you make the paste, you have this umami bomb ready at your finger tips for many more almost instant meals to come. Just freeze the leftovers in ice cub trays and store in zip-top bags when solid. Pop one or two out when you’re ready to eat, and toss in any of your favorite vegetables to round out the dish. Consider the following recipe a guideline to fill out to your own taste- and, of course, spice tolerance.

Yield: Makes 1 Cup Curry Paste; 2 – 3 Servings Curry

Black Curry

Black Curry

Darkened not by some flavorless edible dyes, but by the rich, pungent cloves of black garlic, this new breed balances out heat with a molasses-like sweetness, earthiness, and smoky character. All of that darkness conceals bright, bold pops of citrus and herbaceous cilantro, a stark but compelling contrast to those initial base notes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

Black Curry Paste

  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Lightly Packed
  • 2 Stalks Fresh Lemongrass, Peeled Chopped
  • 14 Makrut Lime Leaves
  • 4 Cloves Raw Garlic
  • 1 1/2 Bulbs Black Garlic
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Roughly Chopped
  • 4 – 6 Thai Bird’s Eye Chiles, Stemmed
  • 3-Inches Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Roughly Chopped
  • 1 Lime, Zested and Juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Avocado, Peanut, or Olive Oil
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Mushroom or Vegetable Stock

Black Curry:

  • 1/4 Cup Black Curry Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 14-Ounce Can No Salt Added Black Beans, Undrained
  • 1/4 Cup Mushroom or Vegetable Stock
  • 3 – 4 Cups Mixed Vegetables (I used yellow squash, green beans, mushrooms and carrots)
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Roasted, Unsalted Peanuts, Roughly Chopped
  • Rice or Noodles, to Serve

Instructions

  1. To make curry paste, simply toss the cilantro, lemongrass, both types of garlic, onion, chilies, ginger, and lime into your food processor. Pulse to combine and begin breaking down the more fibrous vegetables.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the oil, followed by 1/4 cup of the stock. Puree, pausing to scrape down the sides periodically, until the paste is very smooth. Add more stock if needed to keep the blades spinning, and be patient. It could take as long as 10 minutes of processing to plow through all that lemongrass.
  3. Use right away or freeze for more long term storage. It’s perfect for enlivening soups and stews, of course, but also stir-fries, salad dressings, veggie burger patties, cornbread, and more.
  4. To make a simple black curry, stir the curry paste, tomato paste, and black beans together. The liquid in the can will help create a thick, rich sauce, so don’t even think of dumping it out!
  5. Heat the mixture, along with the stock and your vegetables of choice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the stew is highly aromatic.
  6. Top with fresh cilantro and peanuts, and serve alongside hot rice or noodles to complete the meal.

Recommended Products

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experience with all of these companies and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 977Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1408mgCarbohydrates: 142gFiber: 38gSugar: 23gProtein: 41g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

Welcome to the Dark Side

Maybe the most ardent shoppers are still shaking off crushing food comas from the previous night’s excess, but I’m ready to call it early: Black Friday has lost all credibility. Gone are the lines snaking through parking lots, populated by die-hard bargain hunters setting up camp up to a day in advance. 3 AM wake up calls are almost entirely a thing of the past, owing to advanced Thanksgiving day openings, if they didn’t simply leave those automatic glass doors yawning wide open all night long. Most notably on the list of offenses, however, is the fact that it’s not even a single day anymore. How can you call it Black Friday when the big ticket, door buster deals hit a week ago, if not earlier? Perhaps it’s just my heart that’s gone black this year, but I’m officially burned out on this buying and selling insanity.

No, on second thought, I take it back. It’s more than just my black heart speaking, it’s also the black stew percolating on the stove that’s keeping me away from the celebration of consumerism this afternoon.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of darkness, especially when it comes primarily in the form of rich, nutty tahini paste. Quite the rarity despite the popularity of standard blonde sesame butter, black tahini is in a category all its own. I was lucky enough to score a jar while visiting the Living Tree Community Foods offices here in the east bay, and have been somewhat obsessed with it ever since. If you thought almond butter toast was pretty snappy, just try switching up your schmear tactics and taste the difference for yourself. A subtly bitter edge offsets its sticky decadence, lending a far more nuanced flavor profile than one might expect from this silky-smooth, raw puree.

Not to throw shade on Black Friday, but it only wishes it was half as dark as this hearty concoction of black lentils, black beans, black cocoa, and of course, black tahini. Get a healthier fix this “holiday” and save your dollars for the important things that really matter… Like more sesame paste to prepare a second round, perhaps?

Yield: Makes 6 - 8 Servings

Blackout Sesame Chili

Blackout Sesame Chili

A hearty, meatless melange of of black lentils, black beans, black cocoa, black tahini, and a fiery bite of chili spices.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Red Onion, Diced
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 (14.5-Ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 (6-Ounce) Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 1/2 Cups Dry Black Beluga Lentils
  • 1 (16-Ounce) Can Stout Beer
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Chipotle Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Black Tahini
  • 2 (15.5-Ounce) Cans Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

To Garnish (optional):

  • 1 Cup Vegan Sour Cream
  • 3 – 4 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Toasted Black Sesame Seeds

Instructions

  1. Place a large stock pot over medium heat and add in the oil. Once shimmer, add the onion and garlic, sauteing until lightly browned and aromatic; about 6 – 8 minutes.
  2. Introduce the diced tomatoes and tomato paste next, working the paste into the scant liquid to break it down into a smooth mixture. Next, incorporate the lentils, beer, vegetable stock, maple syrup, chili powder, black cocoa, cumin, chipotle powder, and cayenne. Stir well to combine, cover, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add tahini and black beans, mixing well to incorporate.
  4. Continue to stew, uncovered, for an additional 15 – 20 minutes until thick, rich, and piping hot. Add the lime juice and salt, adjusting both to taste as needed.
  5. Depending on your desired consistency, you may want to add more vegetable stock or water, particularly if the chili is made in advance. It tends to thicken further as it cools.
  6. Ladle out into bowls and top with sour cream, scallions, and black sesame seeds. Eat to your black heart’s content!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 594mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 7gSugar: 11gProtein: 7g

Curry Favor

Curry is the catch-all solution to an infinite variety of meal planning dilemmas. No time for a complicated dinner? Throw a pot of curry on the stove. Too many random vegetables languishing in the fridge? They’ll all play nicely together in a spicy vat of curry. Need to feed an army on a shoestring budget? Who doesn’t love curry! Thus, I find myself with a spicy stew on the dinner table at least once or twice a week, no matter the season.

Of course, “curry” as I refer to it for these quick-cooking melting pots is a far cry from anything you might find on the entire Asian continent. Generous handfuls of fresh garlic and ginger sauteed with chopped onions, a shower of blindingly yellow madras curry powder, and a drenching rain of coconut milk are the only constants. Never measured, never varied, this foundation guarantees a satisfying, savory brew every time, authenticity be damned. The point isn’t to make a culinary masterpiece, but to placate a growling stomach at the end of a long day.

For as many times as these quick fix curries pass my lips, I still delight at the opportunity to get the genuine article when eating out. The blazing hot green curries of Thailand, the cinnamon-scented curries of Sri Lanka, the gravy-like, sweet curries of Japan; each one a unique delight. While it’s only too easy to reach for that jar of generic curry powder, why relegate these more elegant flavor profiles to only special occasions?

Certain preparations have long held an air of mystique, out of reach for the typically harried weekday dinner and rife with meat or dairy when outsourcing the meal. Defined by a luxurious sauce of spiced yogurt or cream, chicken korma falls squarely into that category, tempting from afar.

Happily, it turns out that vegan korma needn’t be overly complicated nor time-consuming. Truth be told, my interpretation still uses the ubiquitous madras curry powder as a crutch, but only for lack of a proper spice pantry in my tiny apartment kitchen. A homemade blend would undoubtedly send this dish soaring to new levels of flavor, but it really is a winner as written, if I do say so myself. The distinctive twang of plain yogurt harmonizes with the bright acidity of lime, informing the true character of this incomparable variation within this vast category. Vegetables and “meat” are truly interchangeable, depending on your mood, tastes, and access; the heart and soul of any curry is the sauce, and this one is near saintly.

Yield: Makes 4 - 6 Servings

Vegan Chicken Korma

Vegan Chicken Korma

Creamy korma curry is a healthy indulgence, packed with vegetables, that belongs on everyone's weekly menu. The distinctive twang of plain yogurt harmonizes with the bright acidity of lime, informing the true character of this incomparable variation within this vast category. Vegetables and protein are truly interchangeable, depending on your mood, tastes, and access.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Inches Fresh Ginger, Minced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 12 Ounces Chicken-Style Seitan, Soy Curls, or Meatless Chicken Strips
  • 2 Yellow Onions, Roughly Chopped
  • 1 Large Tomato, Roughly Chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 Fresh Jalapeno, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Madras Curry Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Almond or Cashew Butter
  • 3 – 4 Cups Chopped Vegetables, such as Red Bell Pepper, Zucchini, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato, etc.
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 3/4 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste
  • Fresh Cilantro, Finely Minced

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the ginger and garlic until aromatic before adding in your protein of choice. Cook until lightly browned all over.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the curry base. Toss the onions, tomato, jalapeno, curry powder, garam masala, tomato paste, and nut butter into your blender. Thoroughly puree, until completely smooth. Pour the mixture into the saucepan, turn down the heat to medium-low, and add in your chopped vegetable selections.
  3. Let simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, at least. This is the kind of dish that can cook almost indefinitely, until the flavors are concentrated to your liking or you’re simply ready to serve. Once the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are tender, add the peas (no need to thaw, just toss ’em right in), lime juice, and plain yogurt. Stir well and adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. Cook for just a few minutes longer to let the new ingredients mingle and meld properly before turning off the heat. Top with fresh cilantro and serve with rice (black rice is pictured above, but of course and variety you enjoy will do.)

Recommended Products

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experience with all of these companies and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 639Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 508mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 24gSugar: 23gProtein: 42g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

 

Running Wild and in the Gnude

Never have I met a group of people more enthusiastic about an ominous forecast calling for relentless days of rain, varying from light mists to pounding torrents. After waiting with baited breath for the El Niño predicted to put all other storms to shame, the entire state of California seems to breathe a sigh of relief with every drop of moisture returning back to the parched earth. Cautious optimism prevents anyone from suggesting that our water woes are a thing of the past, or that reservoirs are even remotely close to normal levels yet, but the subject is no longer so fraught with doom and gloom, despite the lack of sun. We all know just how important these rains are to fortify all the local farms both big and small, responsible for producing no less than 99% of the entire country’s artichokes, walnuts, and kiwis, just for starters. What fewer are aware of is the positive impact the precipitation is having on a much smaller, less cultivated crop; mushrooms.

Mushroom foraging is a hit-or-miss affair, unpredictable in the best situations. Aside from the poisonous potential of picking the wrong fungus, the intrepid adventurer risks disappointment on every outing, no matter their level of expertise. Mushrooms love damp, but not cold, and cool, but not wet weather, which makes this season their time to shine. Springing forth under the cover of fallen leaves and the fallen trunks of trees, finding these edible treasures is like a grownup version of hide-and-go-seek, although the seeker doesn’t know exactly what might be hiding, complicating the game quite a bit. The good news is that as long as it doesn’t kill you, every mushroom has incredible culinary potential, stuffed to the gills with deep, nuanced, and entirely unique umami flavors, simply waiting to be unleashed.

Such a lavish assortment of wild mushrooms should be celebrated in dishes that will feature their savory character and meaty texture to the fullest.

Gnudi, best described as naked ravioli, also share similarities with gnocchi but are made with ricotta instead of potato. Simple in concept yet spectacular in execution, they’re like little cheesy pillows that practically melt in your mouth. Bound together with just enough flour to hold their shapes, these are nothing like the dense balls of dough one might otherwise encounter when attempting to eat traditional dumplings. In this case, tofu ricotta easily replaces the dairy foundation, transforming this savory dish into a light, dreamy, and yet impossibly rich indulgence. It’s all thanks to those humble mushrooms.

If you’re lucky enough to have the right terrain and ideal conditions, get out there while the fungus is good! For everyone else, hit up the nearest grocery store and start foraging through the produce aisle instead. It may not be so wild, but let’s be honest: Any mushroom will still be delicious.

Yield: Makes 4 Servings

Wild Mushroom Gnudi

Wild Mushroom Gnudi

Gnudi, best described as naked ravioli, also share similarities with gnocchi but are made with ricotta instead of potato. Simple in concept yet spectacular in execution, they're like little cheesy pillows that practically melt in your mouth. n this case, tofu ricotta easily replaces the dairy foundation, transforming this savory dish into a light, dreamy, and yet impossibly rich indulgence.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Tofu Ricotta Gnudi:

  • 1 Pound Extra-Firm Tofu, Thoroughly Drained and Rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Tahini
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tablespoon Whole Flaxseeds, Ground
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon White Miso Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • All-Purpose Flour*, to Coat

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms:

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Small Shallots, Finely Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1 Pound Fresh Wild (or Cultivated) Mushrooms (Such as Crimini, Oyster, Shiitake), Sliced
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
  • 3/4 Cup Mushroom or Vegetable Broth
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste
  • Fresh Parsley, Minced

Instructions

  1. Crumble the tofu into a large bowl and add all the rest of the ingredients for the gnudi, except for the flour. Don’t be afraid to get dirty, because the best way to mix this is to get in there with your hands!
  2. Combine everything thoroughly, further breaking down the tofu so that no large chunks remain, and the overall texture of the mixture is something akin to smooth cottage cheese. Move the bowl into the fridge and chill for 15 – 30 minutes before proceeding.
  3. Bring a large of water up to a gentle simmer. It’s very important that the water is not boiling, because the gnudi are too delicate to withstand that sort of violence. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, form the chilled gnudi mixture into about 24 balls, tossing them gently in flour to coat.
  4. Carefully slide 5 or 6 balls into the simmering water at a time to prevent the pot from getting too crowded. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Lift out with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining gnudi. The gnudi can be made in advance up to this point and kept for up to 4 hours in the fridge.
  5. When ready to serve, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and sautée until golden brown. Introduce the sliced mushrooms, dried herbs, and broth next, cooking until softened and highly aromatic; about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the gnudi, gently tossing to incorporate and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until gnudi are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and enjoy immediately.

Notes

*For a gluten-free version, try using white rice flour or sorghum flour instead.

Recommended Products

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experience with all of these companies and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 440Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 553mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 7gSugar: 6gProtein: 22g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.