Vegetarian Eggplant Piccata with Mushrooms and Asparagus

I haven’t eaten meat in well over a year now.  I often get asked “do you miss it?”… or told “you should totally try this faux chicken salad I had the other day!”  And my response is no… not really.  I don’t miss meat.  However, there are some dishes that I miss that are usually heavily associated with meat.  Chicken Piccata was easily one of my favorite meals to make myself prior to going vegetarian.  I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to make a vegetarian version.  Perhaps my aversion to meat when I started as a vegetarian pushed me away from any meat related flavors I had associated in my mind.  Whatever the case… I was craving picatta.  More specifically I was craving creamy decadent lemony sauce with capers.

This is a spin of one of my older recipes, eggplant parmesan.  I used the same technique to “bread” the eggplant here.

eggplatnpicatta

Ingredients for the Piccata Sauce

  • 3 Lemons Juiced (give or take depending on how lemon-y you like your stuff)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 Cup White Wine (I used half a cup of White Wine and half a cup of Sherry, because it’s all I had)
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 2 T Butter or Ghee
  • 1/2 C Vegetable Broth
  • Thickener (I used arrowroot)
  • Capers

Ingredients for the Eggplant Portion

  • 1 C Almond Meal
  • .5 C Quinoa Flour
  • 1/4 C Nutritional Yeast (give or take)
  • Italian Seasonings (heavy amount)
  • Salt
  • Thyme
  • 2 Petit Eggplants (enough to make about 10ish rounds)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Oil

Ingredients for the rest of the dish

  • Asparagus (I used half a bundle if thin Asparagus)
  • Mushrooms – about a half pound, up to a pound
  • Optional: Sherry, More Garlic, Lemon Peel Granules (this is just something I had on hand)

Directions!

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400F.
  2. Peel the eggplants and slice into 1/2 inch rounds
  3. Combine all dry ingredients off the eggplant portion to create the breading (adding the lemon peel granules here if you fancy).  In a separate bowl, combine about 2 T Oil and 2 T Vinegar and whisk well.
  4. Dip your eggplant rounds first in the oil/vinegar, then dredge with the coating and set on a foil lined baking sheet. Do this for all your eggplant.
  5. Cook for about 30 – 45 minutes, flipping every 10/15 minutes or so – until they’re nice and lightly browned.
  6. While the eggplants cook, prepare your Asparagus and Mushrooms to your liking.  I lightly sautéed my asparagus over medium heat until bright green and limp.  I also tossed it with extra breading I had (but this didn’t really work, so I don’t recommend it).
  7. For the Mushrooms, start by lightly browning your garlic in some oil/butter over medium heat.  Add in a decent amount (maybe 1/4 C? probably a little less, just a nice thin later) of Sherry and cook out the alcohol.  Add in your mushrooms and cook until completion – about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Finally, prepare your sauce.  Heat butter over medium heat and lightly cook your garlic.  Add in the wine and vegetable broth, cooking through to cook out the wine medium/high heat.  Thicken the sauce to your liking.  To thicken with arrowroot, mix about 1/2 T with 1/2 T Water and blend well, then add that to your simmering sauce and stir until thickened slightly.  Add more until you had desired thickness.  I just lightly thickened mine to give it a nice viscosity.
  9. Finally turn off heat and add in your lemon juice slowly, tasting and adding it until you’ve reached desired tartness.
  10. To plate you can serve with rice to make it a bigger meal, put everything together, top with sauce and capers.

 

Greek Meets Asian Avgolemeno Soup (Egg & Lemon) – Vegetarian

This soup was pulled from a cookbook I acquired a while back at a thrift store full of amazing SOUPS! I had never heard of Avgolemeno soup before, but the basic ingredients in it sounded good to me, so I decided to give it a whirl. I tasted the recipe at the end and decided to take some creative liberty towards the end.

This soup is traditionally made with chicken stock – so it’s important if you use vegetable stock – to use a good one.  

This soup is simple yet rich in flavor.  You can whip it up as fast as you can cook the rice.  If anything – you’ll be waiting on the rice… :) 

GreekLemonSoup

Ingredients

  • 4 C Quality Vegetable Broth (Homemade Preferred)
  • 2 small lemons juiced
  • 1/2 – 1 C Brown Rice Cooked – your preference here
  • 3 Egg Yolks (Save those whites for another time!)
  • Parsley for Garnish
  • Pepper
  • 1 – 2 T Miso Paste (depends on taste – add 1 first)
  • Optional: Tofu for added protein.

Directions

  1. In a pot, heat your vegetable broth up to a simmer.  
  2. While you wait for it to reach simmering – whisk together your eggs and lemon juice until frothy.
  3. Ladle 1 or 2 Scoops of soup into the egg and lemon mixture and whisk again thoroughly. 
  4. Once your broth is simmer, remove it from the heat, slowly add your egg mixture into the hot broth, and continuously whisk.  Foaming is ok, it will settle.
  5. Once you’ve added all your egg mixture, ladle a bit of the soup back out into a separate bowl (you can use the same one you were just using) and add the Miso Paste.  Start with 1 T.  Whisk the miso paste so that is well mixed with the soup, then add it back into the main soup pot. Taste, and add more miso if you desire.  
  6. Once flavored to your liking, serve with rice, small firm tofu cubes, pepper and a bit of parsley.

Enjoy!

 

Eggplant Parmesan over Squash & Sweet Potato “pasta” Vegetarian, Gluten Free Optional Vegan

In a previous post I mention my feelings towards eggplants, and how they’re usually negative.  Recently however, I’ve been venturing out and giving them another chance to win me over, and win me over they are.  They don’t have much in the ways of nutritional value – but they’re great little vessels for flavor, and definitely not bad… (well unless you believe nightshades are bad, which some people do – but I’m not going to go there :] )

The recent recipe that won me over was Eggplant Fries crusted in a flour mixture comprised mostly of Almond Meal, some garbanzo bean flour and brown rice flour.  This time I wanted to convert that recipe into a full meal, and go eggplant parm style.  There isn’t any parmesan in this recipe though… .so I guess technically it’s more of an almond crusted eggplant with squash and potato noodles topped with marinara..but that’s just too silly of a title :)

This recipe uses GHEE – which I’ve been reading a lot about and wanted to give it a whirl. Certainly not needed in the recipe. You can cook the noodles with oil, or just lightly heat them stove top without any oil if you prefer.

I use a small chunk of Pecorino cheese, which is basically a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk.  I opted for that because it was more affordable at my location, and cheeses derived from sheep/goat tend to be easier on my digestion as opposed to cow’s milk, which I find I have a hard time digesting with ease.

If you want this to be vegan – simply omit the cheese, and don’t cook with ghee.

Anyway, on with the show.

EggplanParm

Ingredients (Makes 4 Portions)

  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • ~1/2 C Almond Meal
  • ~1/2 C Quinoa Flour
  • Generous Amount of Italian Spices + any other seasonings you’d like to add to your crust – basil, garlic, etc – etc (I use a spice blend that is intended to be added to vinegar to make a quick easy italian dressing, it contains salt – so I do not add any salt to my recipe aside from this – but if you don’t use any salted seasonings, feel free to add a dash or two)
  • EVOO
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 C Spiralized or Shredded Butternut Squash (Or you could just do a Spaghetti Squash here instead!)
  • 1 Small Sweet Potato Spiralized or Shredded
  • 1  T Ghee (or any oil – or none at all)
  • 1 T Sage
  • Marinara of Choice (For an easy homemade, grab a can of organic Muir Glen Chopped Tomato with Basil & Garlic, add in a small can of tomato paste, about 1 T Agave (optional) – about 1 C vegetable broth – simmer for 20 mins)

Directions for Eggplant Parmesan

  1. In a bowl, whisk together about 1/4 C Oil & about 2 T Apple Cider Vinegar until emulsified. I just whisk together more as I go if I run out – sorry I don’t have an exact amount needed.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine Almond Meal, Quinoa Flour and Spices, mix well and pour onto a flat plate.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Peal your eggplant and cut it into large coin shapes, about 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Dip each eggplant piece in your oil/vinegar mixture, really getting it covered well, then dredge it in your flour mixture, being sure to well cover each piece top, bottom and sides.
  6. Repeat until each piece is well covered and on your parchment lined baking sheet. (If you run out of oil/vinegar mixture, or flour mixture, just a make a little more as needed – I prefer running out as opposed to making too much and wasting).
  7. Place in oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.
  8. Flip each piece, they should be nicely browned on the opposite side.
  9. Cook for an additional 15 – 25 minutes, or until nicely browned on each side.
  10. While your eggplant is cooking, shred your cheese, use as much or as little as you’d like.
  11. Once your eggplants are crispy and golden, top with cheese, return to oven until cheese has melted.
  12. Remove and let slightly cool.

Directions for Squash & Sweet Potato Noodles

  1. Spiralize (if you have one) or shred 1 Sweet Potato, and about 3ish Cups (I just did a portion of a Squash).
  2. Heat Ghee or Oil over a medium/high heat, add in about 1 T Sage.  Add in your sweet potato and squash “noodles” and mix well and cook until tender.  If you are not using oil, lower the heat and just cover the pan and let the heat soften the noodles.

Finally! Serve your Eggplant Medallions over a bed of Squash & Potato Noodles, and top with a bit of Marinara.

Serve warm. :)

 

Empanadas! Baked, Gluten Free, Vegan

Empanadas!!! Man, where have these been all my life, I was always so skeptical of gluten free empanada recipes that used just garbanzo bean flour.  I’ve made a lot of flat breads with it… but I just didn’t see how it was going to be “doughy” enough to roll out, fold over, and press into an empanada… I just didn’t believe.  And my biggest pet peeve is trying out a new recipe thats full of lies and totally doesn’t work….. so I put off trying it for a while.

Tonight however, I swallowed my doubt, and went in for it.  After a little bit of frustration, I prevailed!! and it was so worth it!! omg make these. seriously do it. It’s not hard.

This can serve two people, or 4 with a nice side dish.  Makes about 12 small empanadas.

And yes, this comes out nice and flakey, crunchy delicious.  I was really surprised to be honest. I’ve never worked with garbanzo bean flour and had this kind of result. Very pleased

empanadas2

Ingredients for Dough

  • 2 Cups Garbanzo Bean Flour
  • 1 T of Coconut Oil
  • Non Dairy Milk – I used vanilla soy (I don’t know why milk v water would matter – but I went for the recipe’s suggestion in hopes it would work best)
  • EVOO for coating
  • Excess flour of choice (I used rice because I didn’t have extra garbanzo bean flour – and rice flour is cheap)

Ingredients for Filling

You can use any filling you want, this was a fuck-it hope for the best, use up what I had lying around recipe, so I didn’t do anything crazy exciting on this.  Just used some leftover veggie patties I had in the freezer.  You can use a blend of veggies, potatoes, greens, cheeses, nuts, mushrooms, let me tell you, the next time I try… I will be going crazy :)  Pro tip: Go big! Don’t think you need to wuss out on the filling- you can stuff a surprising amount in there, the dough is elastic enough to stretch over it.  Fill those suckers up!!

Use whatever amount of spice you feel comfortable with – I am usually heavy handed.

  • 2 Veggie Patties, cooked and mashed up
  • ~1/4 – 1/2 C Corn
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. In a bowl, combine Garbanzo Bean Flour, Coconut Oil and start with about 1/4 C Non Dairy Milk.
  3. Start stirring the dough, adding more liquid as needed to form a nice dough consistency, careful to not over liquify – add liquid slowllllyyy as you combine.
  4. Your dough is ready when you can handle it without it being too sticky.
  5. Line a space in your kitchen with excess flour, and coat a rolling pin.
  6. Grab a small ball, about 1.5 inches in diameter and flatten it between your palms, then press it gently down on the cutting board, then flip it (doing this helps give it a light coat of flour which will prevent it from sticking).  Roll it out carefully, flipping it as you go and rolling it even.  The first few of mine stuck a lot, so I made sure to really lay down the excess flour.  Keep flipping it, don’t let it get in contact with non-flour’d surfaces. It will stick.
  7. Once you have rolled it fairly thin (its perfect right before its too thin to flip or handle), take a 1 or 1.5 measuring cup and place it down on your dough – trace it with a knife cutting out a circle.  Or use anything else you have lying around.  Just be careful not to press down the dough – or it may end up sticking.
  8. Save the scraps and combine it back in with the rest of the dough.  Once you have repeated this until you run out of dough, prepare your filling.
  9. In a bowl, mix up the veggie patties, seasonings and corn.
  10. Spoon a fair amount of mixture slightly of center on your dough (you can use surprisingly more than you think – go for it!) and lift the dough over the mixture and press gently down on the outer rim to join the sides. I actually flip it here, and press it slightly down around the edges (this makes them prettier – not necessary though) and seal it by gently pressing a fork along the edges.
  11. FINALLY when you’ve done that for all of them, place them on a pan lined with parchment paper, rub a layer of oil (I just did this with my hand) over each one and bake for about 20 minutes.
  12. Flip over the empanadas to let the other side gently brown – for about 10 more minutes.
  13. Let slightly cool and DEVOUR

empanadads

Eggplant Fries (baked!) – a healthy side or snack – vegan/gluten free

Personally, I hate eggplants.  I bought a few wanting to make a recipe of vegan cheese using the eggplant puree as a base.  But as I was chopping up the first eggplant, I realized I really wasn’t going to need two.  So alas, I hit the interwebs and searched for a recipe that I wouldn’t totally hate, that involved eggplants.  I don’t like the texture of eggplants or the flavor….. however…. this recipe is making me a believer.  I based this recipe from the one here, which features an almond crusted Japanese eggplant.  Typically, Japanese eggplants aren’t as bitter, so I was worried that using normal eggplants would yield an icky result – so I made them more into fries rather than nuggets.  Because I figured when in doubt, the more coating the better ::shrugs::

My amounts might be off on the amount of flour, I didn’t measure anything I actually ended up running out and making a little more – which you can do, it’s really quite simple. Just eyeball the amount you think you’d need, it’s actually a little more than you’d think.

I used a blend of flours because I didn’t have quite enough almond meal to use JUST that, but I like blending flours anyway, I think it gives them a better texture and flavor.  You can use whatever flours (well within reason) you want, but just ensure your almond flour reigns most predominant, this adds a nice crunch at the end.

The finished product is a crunchy, super savory, delicious fry with a tender soft inside, that you would never even guess is eggplant.

Ingredients

  • About 1/2 C Almond Meal
  • 1/4 C Garbanzo Bean Flour
  • 1/6 C Rice Flour
  • Seasonings of choice (go heavy here, this gives the coating a nice flavor): I opted for a blend of italian seasonings, garlic, onion, basil, oregano etc.
  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • Few Tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F
  2. Mix together your almond meal, rice and garbanzo bean flour, season well and pour onto a large flat plate.
  3. Whisk together EVOO, Vinegar, Lemon and Salt until blended well.
  4. Peel the eggplant (annoying but doable) and cut into fry sized thin pieces (don’t go TOO thin, think thin steak fries)
  5. Dip each eggplant piece in the oil/vinegar bowl, then roll it over the flour mixture, coating well, rolling back and forth as needed to get a nice thick coat.  Place on a foil lined baking pan.
  6. After you’ve done this for all the pieces, drizzle with a bit of oil (You’ll probably have some leftover from your mixture) place in oven for about 12 – 15 minutes, keep an eye on them, don’t let them burn.
  7. Flip them once, then finish cooking for about 10 minutes, maybe less.  Remove when crispy, you may see a few browner than desired, but most should be perfect.
  8. Let cool a bit, serve with any dip of choice, or eat plain

I ate mine with a sauce made of coconut milk, prik khing paste and a bit of rice vinegar…. but i’m weird :) 

Image

Spicy Baba Ganoush Cabbage Salad – or Tacos!

This salad can be served warm or cold, as a side, as a main dish component, stuffed in a taco, or just about any other way you can imagine :)

Its quick  to prepare, and comes together about as quickly as you can roast 2 eggplants.  Saves well for leftovers, and pairs nicely with other Mediterranean, rich, savory flavors.

What you see pictured is the baba ganoush salad mixture with some added sunflower sprouts, mashed pinto beans and served as a taco :)

I’ve been studying a lot of nutrition lately, and I’m currently obsessed with the book Nutrition Made Clear, which i’m listening to on audiobook.  I’ve started to realize that I’m really not feeding my boyfriend enough protein/calories per day.  He’s 6’2, and I’m 5’7… and we’ve been eating fairly similar amounts, I tend to feed him more…. but def not as many calories as I’m learning he needs. His body naturally burns around 500 more calories than me a day, just by default!

Poor thing! I’m finding ways to make his meals more calorie dense, without compromising health TOO much.  So I’ve started doing quick easy sides (such as mashed pinto beans, green peas, quinoa), and throwing things on Tortillas to help bulk up his intake.

If you are a smaller female, or know that you’re not trying to bulk up your meals, feel free to eat this salad all on it’s own.

MediterraneanTaco

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggplants
  • 1 C Cooked Garbanzo Beans (I skin mine)
  • 1 – 2 T Tahini
  • A Few tablespoons of Bulgarian Yogurt (I use non fat), add as much as desired for creaminess.
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 – 3 lemons juiced
  • 1 T Garlic Chili Paste
  • 3 – 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/4 head of cabbage
  • 1 C Cooked Rice
  • 1 Large Cucumber Diced
  • Salt
  • EVOO

Directions

  1. Start by pre-heating your oven to 400F.
  2. Stab your eggplants a few times, and roast until tender, about 30 mins, or more depending on size.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and pour the insides into a food processor.
  4. Add in Garbanzo Beans, Yogurt, Apple Cider Vinegar, Tahini, Salt to taste, Lemon Juice, Garlic Chili Paste, Garlic and process for a few moments.  Add in as much EVOO as you’d like, and process for a few moments more.  Finally add in as much water as desire to reach the consistency you prefer.
  5. In a large bowl, combine chopped cucumber, cabbage, rice and your Spicy Baba Ganoush Mixture, and combine.  Serve as is, or add to a taco for a creative new taco filling :)

Brown Rice, Goat Cheese, Sprout And Asparagus Roll topped with Candied Walnuts and a sweet balsamic reduction

So this is a total rip from a sushi place my boyfriend and I go.  I should back up with a disclaimer.

Warning: This super non-authentic sushi may totally shock, appall and offend you.  However, as vegetarians, all of our sushi is offensive and non authentic.  So there!

If the previous warning doesn’t deter you, prepare yourself for a flavorgasm.

goatcheeseroll

Ingredients
(amounts vary based on number of rolls, get the amount you think is necessary)

  • Sheets of Nori
  • Cooked Brown Rice (short grain or “sushi rice”)
  • Asparagus
  • Sprouts (I used daikon sprouts) – optional
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Agave
  • Walnuts
  • Goat Cheese
  • Optional: Garlic

Directions

  1. First create the reduction.  Do this by heating about 1 C Balsamic Vinegar (and garlic if using) over medium heat until reduce by half.  I added a touch of Agave to add to the sweetness.
  2. Next prepare your walnuts.  Chop your walnuts up into fine pieces, heat over medium heat in a large pan. Drizzle with agave and stir. Add more agave as needed until the walnut chunks are nicely glazed.
  3. For your sushi, I used half a nori sheet, spread the brown rice evenly over the nori, flipped it onto the bamboo mat (covered in plastic wrap), then added 1 piece of asparagus, the goat cheese and sprouts.  Carefully roll up, then cut.
  4. Plate topped with walnuts and drizzled reduction.

Do not serve with soy sauce!

Goatcheesesushi2

 

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