Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘nutritional yeast flakes’

NEW YEAR REFLECTIONS ON VEGAN CHRISTMAS IN A NUTTY WORLD!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 2, 2013

Well, 2013 has officially begun and I’ve been considering resolutions to help make this world a healthier, happier, and more peaceful place for humans and animals and a more sustainable one for our planet. Reflecting on the past year, I realized those ideals have been my steadfast focus. They’ve enriched my life with purpose and joy and have helped others who have stopped by to visit this cozy little vegan niche. So, I’ve settled in and look forward to another fulfilling year.

Now I’m feeling a bit sentimental and want to share a smidgeon of holiday nostalgia.

Vegan Christmas – two words that may not go together in every household, but in my home, it was an exceptional holiday with tender memories to cherish. Imagine all the warm and wonderful traditional winter holiday blessings, and, then, put them all together into one special day on December 25th. Bit by bit, I baked a few batches of sweet goodies, sent invitations to friends to join us for a holiday potluck, and readied the house for a comfy crowd. I knew it would be a happy occasion, but I never imagined it would be as cozy, delicious, and nostalgic as it turned out.

I think there was a little vegan magic whirling in the air that day. My sweet hubby built a fire in the fireplace and lovingly tended it all afternoon. Coming in from the cold, our guests immediately gravitated toward the warm and cozy living room as they shed their coats and scarves.

A boldly-spiced apple cider was mulling on the kitchen stovetop ready to offer warming comfort, while the entire house became infused with a rich medley of lively aromas. The gently simmering cider was happily sharing its generous gifts of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and freshly grated nutmeg. Floating to the top of the cider were slices of lemon and orange contributing a subtle note of citrus. And, as if that were not enough, whole almonds and golden raisins, borrowed from my Happy New Year Glogg recipe, were also quite visible as one peered down into the large pot.

I loved seeing jolly faces stretch into big smiles as I passed the tray of apple cider. Into each of the small, glass punch cups I ladled the hot cider and included a few almonds and raisins in each glass. Within a couple of hours, that cider-filled, 12-quart stockpot was nearly empty.

When everyone’s potluck contribution was well warmed or perfectly chilled, we gathered around the table to fill our plates with a feast to boast about. There dishes too numerous to list. I will simply remember the tantalizing medley of savory, lemony, spicy, pungent, and sweet flavors that strolled across my taste buds.

Aside from making hot mulled apple cider, cookies, and confections, my contribution was an eye-appealing Tomato Pine Nut Pie with Sweet Potato and Nut Crust, a recipe from my new cookbook VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS. This is what the pie looks like:

Tomato Pine Nut Pie

The pie crust of crushed almonds, tofu, and yams makes this a unique dish and one that was enthusiastically received.

Because we were expecting about 20 people, I thought it would be best to triple the recipe and prepare it in a large rimmed baking sheet. It was the perfect amount and allowed for extra helpings.

Tomato Pine Nut Pie 1

This is what the dish looked like after it was ravished:

Tomato Nut Pie Leftovers

While assembling the pie, I realized this is not a dish that’s just for Christmas. It’s a charming recipe that can be enjoyed year round because the ingredients are readily available no matter what season. During summer, when green tomatoes are available at the farmstand, they can be substituted for ripe ones or intermixed, creating an appealing red and green theme.

This is one honey of a make-ahead dish, even up to two days ahead. To serve, remove the dish from the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature, and warm in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into serving pieces and enjoy.

TOMATO-PINE NUT PIE WITH SWEET POTATO AND NUT CRUST

Melt-in-the-mouth delicious and decked out for the festivities, this attractive Italian-inspired dish makes an ideal savory dinner pie with a unique crust.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie or 6 servings

Crust
12 ounces sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
2/3 cup mashed tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Light oil a 9-inch pie pan.

2. To make the crust, put the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan with water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes well, transfer them to a large bowl and mash them well. Set aside.

3. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground yet still retain a little texture. Add the tofu and salt and process until well incorporated, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix well.

4. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to press it onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Build up the sides of the crust 1/2 -inch higher than the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and let cool.

Filling
2 green onions, sliced
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 to 3 tablespoons Homemade Parmesan (recipe below) or prepared vegan Parmesan
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 small eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch slices
4 to 5 large red or green tomatoes, seeded and sliced.

1. To make the filling, put the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan in individual bowls. Sprinkle the cornstarch on a plate.

2. Cover the bottom of the crust with one layer of eggplant slices. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy). Reserve remaining eggplant for another use. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and pepper.

3. Dredge one-third of the tomato slices in the cornstarch. Arrange the dredged tomato slices over the eggplant, filling all the spaces with small bits of tomato. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one third each of the green onions, garlic, pine nuts, and Homemade Parmesan over the tomatoes. Repeat the process to make three layers.

4. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Note: If using green tomatoes, the pie might have to hake another 15 minutes.

HOMEMADE PARMESAN
Often I’ve come to rely on a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan to add sparkle to a dish, soup, a casserole, or an appetizer. With only five ingredients, this recipe is almost instant to make and tastes enough like the real thing to put the Italian touch on everything from pizza to minestrone and a host of holiday or everyday dishes.

1 cup almonds
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground, yet still retain a bit of texture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. (Avoid overprocessing or it will turn into almond butter.)

2. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Covered and refrigerated, Homemade Parmesan will keep for 3 months.

Posted in almonds, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, pine nuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

DISCOVER THE MAGIC OF CHESTNUTS

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on November 13, 2012

Once you’ve tasted fresh chestnuts, you’ll agree they have no equal. Chestnuts stand apart from any other nut, yet they are part of the same family of tree nuts as almonds and walnuts. From their natural sweetness to their soft, potato-like texture, these treasures of the autumn season enhance all dishes with unmatched flavor richness.

What makes them so extra special is their limited availability. Chestnuts grown in the U.S. are available only from October through January, though some growers sell out earlier.

Asian markets that import fresh chestnuts from China and other Asian regions have them available throughout the spring.

For instructions on cooking and peeling chestnuts, see these earlier post at:

Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts

Peeling and Cooking Chestnuts Step-by-Step

Here are some handy, time-saving chestnut measurements:

A 15-ounce jar of cooked, peeled chestnuts contains about 2 1/2 cups.

One pound of fresh chestnuts in the shell will make about 2 1/2 cups peeled cooked chestnuts.

SEE ONLINE CHESTNUT RESOURCES BELOW.

Following are some delectable chestnut recipes for the festive holidays ahead. The recipes are from my new cookbook Vegan for the Holidays. The last recipe. Fresh Chestnut Soup, is from my first cookbook, The Nut Gourmet.

GARLICKY CHESTNUT BUTTER

With the addition of a bit of kitchen sorcery and a whirl in the food processor, naturally sweet and starchy chestnuts become transformed into an irresistible creamy spread that stands out on any variety of bread, bagel, or cracker. Consider this buttery spread as a tasty accompaniment to any savory dish, and use as you would a relish or a spread on your favorite bread or rolls.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup water, divided
1 1/4 cups cooked and peeled coarsely chopped chestnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 sprig parsley, for garnish

1. Cook and stir the onion, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 cup of the water in a medium skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the chestnuts, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup of water. Process for 1 or 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the parsley if desired.

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CHESTNUT-SMOTHERED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Brussels sprouts and chestnuts may seem like the ultimate cliché of trendy holiday foods, but not so this tasty version that turns Brussels sprouts haters into devoted converts. The plan-ahead host may want to blanch the Brussels sprouts the day before for convenience.

Yield: 12 servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup diced red bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
24 cooked and peeled chestnuts, diced, or 1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
6 pimiento-stuffed green olives, minced
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 green onion, sliced, for garnish

1. Combine the Brussels sprouts, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes over high heat, or until the onions are very soft and the tomatoes begin to break down. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
2. Add the chestnuts, garlic powder, onion powder, and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Spoon into a serving bowl or platter and garnish with the green onion if desired.

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UPBEET CHESTNUTTY POTATO SALAD

What makes this salad a delightful departure from standard potato salad is the medley of sweet yams, sweet chestnuts, and sweet beets laced with a tart touch of lemon juice and vinegar. For convenience, purchase the jarred or vacuum-packed cooked, peeled chestnuts. If you’re not a fan of chestnuts, you can eliminate them or substitute with one cup of lightly steamed sliced carrots and still enjoy this delicious salad.

Yield: 6 servings

4 medium white or red Rose potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 large beets, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

1 cup cooked and peeled chestnuts, quartered, or lightly steamed sliced carrots
4 green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Fresh sprigs herbs for garnish

1. Put the potatoes, yams, and beets in separate saucepans and add enough water to cover them. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-high and cook until the potatoes and beets are just tender when pierced with a fork. The potatoes will cook in about 5 to 7 minutes. The beets will take about 25 to 35 minutes.
2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Line a plate with three layers of paper towels and transfer the beets to the plate. Use extra paper towels to pat the beets dry.
3. Add the beets, chestnuts, green onions, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and toss well. Transfer the salad to an attractive serving dish and garnish with a few sprigs of herbs, if desired.

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WILD RICE AND CHESTNUT PILAF

Chestnuts are the definitive sweet infusion that makes this earthy pilaf so special, while exotic spices help transform it into a vibrant side dish.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

3 1/4 cups water
1 cup wild rice
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 cup chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts, or coarsely chopped raw or roasted
walnuts
1 green onion, sliced, for garnish
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Combine 3 cups of the water, wild rice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the water is absorbed.
2. Meanwhile, combine the onion, tomatoes, the remaining 1/4 cup water, curry powder to taste, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, and garam masala in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onion and tomatoes are softened. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
3. Drain any excess liquid from the rice and add the rice and chestnuts to the tomato mixture. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly. Spoon the pilaf into a serving bowl and garnish with the green onion and parsley if desired.

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SAVORY CHESTNUT AND FRUIT STUFFING

This sumptuous stuffing, replete with chestnuts, is so fruity and ravishing, it makes a delicious meal by itself. Enjoy it as a side dish or use it to stuff acorn, butternut, or delicata squash.

Yield: 12 to 15 hearty servings

2 cups water
2/3 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

8 cups whole wheat bread cubes
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 large sweet onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped

2 large apples, cored and chopped
1 1/4 cups chopped cooked and peeled chestnuts, or pecans, or walnuts
1 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots (preferably Turkish)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons white miso

Garnishes
1/4 bunch parsley
3 tangerine wedges or Fuyu persimmon slices
3 fresh cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine the water, barley, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the barley is tender and all the water is absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, place the bread cubes on a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until dry. Transfer the bread cubes to an extra-large bowl.

4. Add the vegetable broth to the bread cubes and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the bread cubes are broken down into a coarse meal. Set aside.

5. Combine the onion and celery in a large, deep skillet and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. Cook and stir for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and translucent. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes.

6. Add the apples, chestnuts, raisins, cranberries, apricots, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and mix well.

7. Thin the miso with about 3 tablespoons of water, add it to the stuffing mixture and combine well to distribute it evenly. Adjust the seasonings.

8. Spoon the stuffing into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until a light crust forms on the top.

9. To serve, garnish one corner of the pan with parsley and artfully nestle the tangerine wedges and cranberries into the parsley if desired.

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FRESH CHESTNUT SOUP

While this unique, tantalizing soup is cooking, it sends waves of beckoning aromas so irresistible it just may become a holiday tradition at your house. For the best flavor, prepare the soup a day ahead, giving it plenty of time for the seasonings to fully develop. To reheat the soup, warm it gently over medium heat and stir frequently to avoid burning.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

3 1/4 cups water
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 serrano or jalapeno chile, minced

2 quarts unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/4 pounds fresh chestnuts in the shall, cooked and peeled or 1 (15-ounce) jar cooked
chestnuts

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the water with the carrots, onion, celery, and chile in a large deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.

2. Combine the soymilk, nutritional yeast, salt, nutmeg, and tarragon in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

3. Combine 1/4 cup of the water with the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl and stir to make a thin paste. Add to the simmering soymilk and stir for 1 minute until it is well dissolved and the soup is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.

4. Combine three-quarters of the cooked vegetable mixture, three-quarters of the prepared chestnuts, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups water in the food processor and process until smooth. Add to the soup along with the remaining cooked vegetables.

5. Chop the remaining chestnuts and add them to the soup. Heat gently to warm through and blend the flavors. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkling of the chives and serve.

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Chestnut Resources

Allen Creek Farm Chestnuts

Correia Chestnut Farm

Empire Chestnut Company

Girolami Farms Chestnuts

Posted in Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Holiday Recipes, Salads and Salad Dressings, Side Dishes, Soups | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

POTATO SOUP FOR THE QUEEN’S TASTE

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 26, 2012

A simple homemade potato soup is a long-time family favorite in my home. But sometimes I just want to step outside the box and explore creative ways to serve the same delicious favorite with a bit of a tweak to give it a fresh lift. With the addition of a few root vegetables and spoonful or two of some lively seasonings, the sleepy little potato wakes up fully refreshed and ready to impress everyone who pokes a curious finger into the soup pot.

And if the Queen wants to step into the kitchen for a taste, I will welcome her with a curtsy and hand her my one and only silver spoon.

Of course, I know that’s not likely to happen, but it was a fun thought to imagine what I might do if a royal figure dropped in while I was cooking up something so tasty it would evoke an enthusiastic response. More likely is that it’s just a great idea to have a flavorful pot of soup on hand during the busy holiday season that’s just ahead. We’re often so busy we don’t have time to spend preparing fussy meals. That’s when a nourishing, flavor-infused, homemade soup is so welcome and so satisfying.

ROOT FOR POTATO SOUP

Yield: 6 servings

2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1 large turnip, peeled and diced
1 head garlic, minced or crushed
5 to 7 cups water, divided

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup white miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Pepper to taste
Pinch cayenne

Garnish
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts
Ground sumac or paprika

1. Combine the carrots, onions, parsnip, turnip, garlic, and 2 cups of the water in an 8 to 10-quart stockpot. Cook and stir over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add increments of 1/4 to 1/2 cups water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning.

2. Add the potatoes and the remaining 5 cups of water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1 to 2 cups of the potatoes and vegetables to a small bowl. Using an immersion blender in the stockpot or a regular blender, process the soup until it becomes a smooth, creamy puree. Then, return the chunky vegetables to the soup pot.
4. Add the miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and cayenne and mix well. Adjust the seasonings, if needed.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and ground sumac.

Posted in cashews, Holiday Recipes, Soups | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ALMONDS + SEASONINGS = PARMESAN????

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 23, 2009

The versatility of almonds never fails to amaze me. In this recipe for an imitation Parmesan, the almonds become the grounding ingredient that gives the seasonings the ideal base to cling to.

The recipe came from a moment of frustration at the natural food market. Whole Foods dared to be out of the vegan Parmesan I had been using for several years. I was making Cioppino, a plant-based version of Italian fisherman’s stew, and needed the Parmesan for the finishing touch. What on earth was I going to do? That &!*#@!!! market is the only natural food store within reasonable driving distance.

Well, I grabbed my thinking cap—thank goodness it’s always within close proximity—and chose almonds for the base of my Parmesan adventure. Within minutes and a little sprinkle of this and that, an imitation Parmesan was born. It’s a great keeper, too. I’ve kept the Parmesan in a covered plastic container for up to 3 months and still found it just as tasty as the day it was made.

It’s super easy. Give it a try and you’ll even benefit from the power of almonds to bring you good health. As little as an ounce a day helps to lower cholesterol, especially when used in place of foods containing saturated fat. That single little ounce can help to lower the risk of coronary artery disease, sudden heart attack, diabetes, gallstones, and some cancers.

I thought if I could create my own imitation Parmesan, I could easily whip up a batch in the food processor and keep it on hand at all times. This recipe couldn’t be easier and tastes enough like the real thing to put the Italian touch on everything from pizza to minestrone.

Enjoy!

HOMEMADE VEGAN PARMESAN

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

1 cup whole almonds

1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Place the almonds into the food processor and pulse and process until they become a finely ground meal. Be careful not to over-process or the meal may become almond butter.
2. Add the nutritional yeast flakes, onion powder, sea salt, and garlic powder and pulse until well blended. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Refrigerated, the Homemade Vegan Parmesan will keep for up to 3 months.

Posted in almonds, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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