Monday, May 19, 2014

Mushroom & Lentil Ragu

Spaghetti was one of my favorite things to eat growing up. My mom use to prepare her spaghetti sauce in the crockpot and it would cook all day. When I would walk into the door from school, that amazing aroma of spaghetti fulfilled the house.

Since I am not eating meat anymore, I decided to make a vegetarian version of this meal.  This came out great! Who needs meat when you can have mushrooms & lentils! 

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 box (16 ounces) brown rice spaghetti
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


In large saucepot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, carrot, bell pepper and onion. Cook until vegetables are very brown and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add wine; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Use wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan.

Stir in bay leaf, crushed tomatoes, water, lentils, oregano, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water, as needed, if ragu gets too thick. Remove bay leaf and stir in basil.

Meanwhile, prepare spaghetti according to package directions.

Serve ragu over spaghetti. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mushroom Lentil Burger

This is another yummy vegetarian burger creation. This was perfect for my meal prepping. Making all these amazing vegetarian dishes are such a treat. I feel like I'm cheating because it tastes so good. 

I'm definitely going to need to try desserts soon... 

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 regular or gluten free hamburger bun
  • 6 ounces assorted mushrooms
  • (8-ounce) pouch precooked black beluga lentils (such as Trader Joes)
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • large egg, lightly beaten 
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used fagé)
  • 3 tbs sirchacha 

Preheat broiler.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Remove from heat.

Place 1 bun in a food processor; process until coarse crumbs form. Remove breadcrumbs from food processor; set aside.

Combine mushrooms, lentils, 2 teaspoons mustard, and the next 3 ingredients (through salt) in food processor; pulse to combine.

Combine onion mixture, breadcrumbs, mushroom mixture, and egg in a large bowl, stirring well. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add patties; cook for 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove patties from pan; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle patties evenly with cheese. Place under broiler for 2 minutes or until cheese is softened.

Combine yogurt, siracha and remaining 2 teaspoons mustard in a small bowl. 

I decided to make this open faced, so I just topped my burgers with lettuce, tomatoes and put the fagé mixture on the side for dipping. You could definitely serve on a hamburger bun instead. Just depends on what your preference is. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Vegan Eggplant Burger

I was so nervous about making this one. I love eggplant but wasn't too sure about an eggplant burger. It came out amazing though. 

I froze half of the burgers so that I can have them when I wanted another one. Good thing I did because I had this amazing dinner two nights in a row. The second night I had it bunless.


For the Horseradish Mustard Mayo

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise or fagé
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
  • A pinch of dried tarragon
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the eggplant burgers

  • 1 large or 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 cup vegan cheese shreds, any flavor
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

For the toppings

  • 1 cup vegan cheese, either slices or shreds (as long as it melts)
  • 4 gluten-free buns
  • 4 slices beefsteak tomato
  • 4 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 4 slices red onion
  • Horseradish Mustard Mayonnaise (recipe above)
  • Caramelized onions & mushrooms


For the Horseradish Mustard Mayo

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and horseradish in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

The sauce can be prepared 1 day in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.

To make the Eggplant Burgers

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant cubes and sauté until they are browned and very soft, about 10-12 minutes. Make sure they are super-soft because they need to be mashed. You could also roast the eggplant to make it soft.

Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl. Mash the eggplant up until there are no whole pieces left. I use a potato masher to do this. Once you have a big bowl of mush, add the shallot, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix it into the eggplant. Add the bread crumbs. Don’t add them all at once; you want to feel the mix and see whether you need a whole cup. I add ½ cup of bread crumbs and mix it.

The best way to mix it is wet your hands and use one hand (keep the other hand clean) to gently mix the crumbs into the eggplant. You will probably need more crumbs so add another ¼ cup and mix it again. You want the consistency to feel firm, like it will hold up as a burger. If it feels too moist, add the last ¼ cup of bread crumbs. Usually, I end up using the whole cup of crumbs.

Put the eggplant mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes. To form the burgers, I scooped 1/2 cup mixture and formed like you would a regular hamburger.  

In the same skillet that you sautéed the eggplant in (but cleaned), heat the other Tbs. of oil over medium-high heat and add the burgers to the pan. Let cook until slightly browned on one side and (this is very important), you can lift the burger with a spatula without breaking it. I use 2 spatulas to gently turn the burgers. Flip them and let them cook on the other side. When the 2nd side gets golden brown, flip them back over and let the first side cook until golden brown. 

If you want your buns toasty, put on some pants. If you want your burger buns toasty, preheat the broiler while you are cooking the burgers. Split the buns and put the halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet and cook them until they are lightly golden brown, about 30 seconds. Don’t burn them!!

Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and, if desired, top with tomato, lettuce, onion, and a dollop of horseradish mustard mayonnaise, caramelized onions & mushrooms and serve immediately. Make sure you have tons of napkins because it’s going to be messy.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

"Meatball" subs

I just have to say, I'm having so much fun doing my vegetarian eating. It's been such an amazing change for my health and I feel great since I've changed. I didn't think giving up animal meat would be this easy, but surprisingly, I haven't even craved meat at all! 

These meatballs came out great. Plus, the fact that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE mushrooms, this meal was right up my alley. 


for the walnut bella "meatballs"
1 cup walnuts*  *For a nut-free version use pepitas (raw hulled pumpkin seeds)
4oz baby bella mushrooms - cut in half
1tsp all purpose savory seasoning
4 sprigs fresh parsley
4 medjool dates- pitted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup fresh gluten free bread crumbs (1 slice of bread)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax & 3tbsp warm water, mixed and set aside for 5 minutes)

for the veggie filling
1/2 orange bell pepper sliced into strips
1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1/2 large shallot sliced
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 sub rolls toasted (I used trader Joe's gluten free bread)
parsley for garnish

preheat oven to 400*

finely grind the slice of bread into crumbs in a food processor - transfer crumbs to a small bowl & set aside.
in the food processor, finely ground 1 cup walnuts, half of the mushrooms, seasoning & parsley until well mixed. the mixture should be a bit moist from the walnuts. transfer mixture to a medium mixing bowl.

add dates and remaining mushrooms to the processor until well ground. with a rubber spatula transfer date/mushroom mixture to the bowl with the walnut mixture. add bread crumbs, olive oil, salt and flax egg - mix well.

a heaping tablespoon at a time form a ball with the mixture - place on a parchment lined baking sheet. continue 12 times until all the mixture has been formed into balls.

bake for 15-20 minutes until brown.

while the "meatballs" are baking - prep your veggies.
in a medium saute pan over medium/high heat - add oil, once oil is heated add veggies and saute. caramelized bits are good. towards the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add the balsamic to de glaze the pan. continue to cook until balsamic is reduced to 1/2 - you are looking to create a glaze of balsamic on the veggies. remove from heat and set aside.

when you have about 2-3 minutes of cooking time left on the "meatballs" place 2 sub rolls cut side down on the upper rack of the oven.

once the "meatballs" are done cooking, remove from the oven along with the sub rolls. allow the "meatballs" to cool for about 3 minutes.

assemble the subs by placing half the veggie mixture into the roll, top with walnut bella "meatballs" and garnish with parsley

leftover "meatballs" can be stored in an airtight container for up to week and reheated as needed or frozen on a cookie sheet and stored in a freezer bag for later use.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

I'm on Day 3 of my new eating plan of no meat or dairy and I cannot believe how AMAZING I feel.  

I am a big fan of Asian food, must be my filipino roots. I was a little nervous about making this dish because I've never made Pad Thai before, but it came out great and I am in love with this dish.

  • 1 15oz package firm tofu, blotted dry & cubed
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (~4lb), cut in half, and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups bean sprouts (optional)
  • 1 cup carrot, julienned
  • 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
In a large wok or skillet over medium-high, lightly spray with coconut oil cooking spray. Add tofu pieces in a single layer. Let cook for a few minutes on one side, then with a heat-proof spatula, turn the tofu pieces so that all sides brown, cooking for a few minutes on each side. Once tofu is lightly browned and crispy (about 10 minutes), remove from pan. Use in your favorite stir fry, dip in peanut sauce, or add to soups or stews
Roast spaghetti squash, skin side up, in a preheated 400F oven until tender, about 45 minutes, before scooping the flesh out with a fork and leaving it in a colander to drain.
Meanwhile, heat the lime juice, fish sauce, honey, chili sauce and peanut butter until smooth and then prepare the remaining ingredients.
Heat oil in a pan, add The shallots saute for a minute, add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
Add the bean sprouts and carrots and cook for a minute.
Spread everything to the outside of the pan, add the eggs, let them set a bit and then cook it scrambled style, mixing it into the vegetables.
Add the spaghetti squash, the sauce, peanuts and cilantro and gently mix everything up until the sauce is evenly mixed in and remove from heat.

Note: The peanut butter is not really traditional but I like it; omit it if you want.

Note: You want to be gentle with the spaghetti squash because if you over mix it it will turn from spaghetti like to mush.

Option: Replace the tofu with a meat of your choice and the fish sauce with soy sauce for vegetarian.