Saturday, August 30, 2014

Coconut Crusted Tofu with Teriyaki Vegetables and Cauliflower "Rice"

Working with tofu is so much fun! It's like starting with a blank canvas and painting a beautiful picture full of color and life!  Instead of paints and pencils, we work with flavors and ingredients to create new and interesting dishes.  On a previous post, I had experimented with panko bread crumbs to make a pecan crusted tofu and quickly learned that dredging tofu is not only easy but can yield marvelous results!  Without using egg, the coconut clings to the tofu and creates a nice crispy shell while the inside is tender and firm.  Served over a bed of teriyaki stir fried vegetables and cauliflower rice, this meal is a fantastic choice for a quick and delicious weeknight meal.

Coconut Tofu Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp. low sodium tamari or liquid aminos (Brad's liquid aminos or coconut aminos are both good)
  • 1 Tbsp. mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup 
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 16 oz. package of organic extra firm tofu, drained, and pressed.
Coconut Tofu Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. 
  • Remove tofu from its package and drain the liquid. Carefully wrap in kitchen towels and set on the counter. Gently press the liquid from the tofu.  Remove the now saturated towel and wrap in a dry one. Set the tofu on the counter for 20 minutes so the excess water and drain. 
  • In a small bowl, add the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, the sesame oil and the red pepper flakes.  Give the sauce a quick whisk to incorporate.  Into another small bowl, add the shredded coconut.
  • Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes.  Completely saturate each piece of tofu with the sauce and then transfer to the bowl with coconut. Gently press each side of the tofu into the coconut and place finished tofu cube on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a glass oven safe dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.  While the tofu bakes, prepare the cauliflower rice and teriyaki vegetables.

Cauliflower Rice:
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into large florets
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cauliflower Rice Method:
  • To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the cauliflower.  Pulse until the cauliflower is broken into small pieces and resembles rice.

Bring a medium sized sauce pan to medium heat and add a little bit of olive oil.  Add the cauliflower rice to the pan, add a bit of salt and pepper and stir.  Let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cook until the cauliflower is tender and then turn the heat to low and cover while you make the teriyaki vegetables.

Teriyaki Vegetable Ingredients:
  • Two medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup soft yellow squash, sliced into half moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium tamari or liquid aminos
  • 2 - 4 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. rice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. mirin
Teriyaki Vegetable Method:
  • In a small bowl, add the minced garlic, tamari, water, rice vinegar, maple syrup, rice flour, sesame oil and mirin and whisk to incorporate. Whisk well to ensure that the rice flour is blended and there are no lumps.  Set aside.
  • In a medium sized fry pan, add a little bit of olive oil and bring to medium-high heat.  Add all the vegetables and stir well.  Let cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent.  Pour teriyaki sauce into the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir to cover all the vegetables in sauce and place a lid on the pan.  Let cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
About this time, the coconut tofu should be done. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

To serve: To a plate add a bed of cauliflower rice, then cover the rice with teriyaki vegetables. Top with coconut tofu and garnish with fresh cilantro, chives and black sesame seeds!  Enjoy!

Thank you for visiting Venturing Vegan! I find great pleasure in sharing these recipes with all of you and sharing how easy and delicious it is to be fully vegan. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. As always, sharing is caring so please share any all recipes with family and friends!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rainbow Cobb Salad with Coconut Cream Ranch Dressing

 There are no words to explain the joy of truly delicious and creamy ranch salad dressing. During my middle school years, I have vivid memories of being at camp and having limited vegetarian options during mealtime.  However, we had access to a full salad bar and a heavenly ranch dressing that kept me energized through climbing rock walls, riding horses, snorkeling and hiking around Catalina Island off the coast of California.  It was an amazing summer and to this day, ranch dressing reminds me of camp.  Well, flash forward some unmentioned number of years (or decade) and I find myself still hiking, riding horses, and spending summer doing pretty much all the same activities, except the making of friendship bracelets, but hey, the summer isn't over yet!
Recently, I went on a hike to Lena Lake in the Olympic National Forest and was stunned at the views, the lush vegetation and the possibility of mountain goat sightings!  We stopped to look at flowers, slugs, pet puppies, eat vegan food and even did a little yoga.   

It was a wonderful hike, mostly uphill, that let out onto a gorgeous lake covered with floating logs.  Since a friend of mine had inspired me to do more yoga on the go, I embraced the moment and ventured out onto a floating log in the lake. As I searched in the distance for a focal point, struggling not to fall in the water, I finally came to rest in a challenging tree pose.  In that moment, feeling the dance of strength and balance traveling up my legs, through my core and reaching out through my fingertips, I felt grounded in the serenity of yoga. Just like being vegan, yoga teaches us that it is the journey that matters, not the destination.  Our daily choices are moments where we choose to be grateful, to be present and enjoy the ride. We are always learning, always improving and always facing the world with an open heart.  
Being vegan has its restrictions but within these restrictions lie options, replacements and new adventure!  Veganism is not a diet, it is a lifestyle of choice, creativity, and the decision to impact the world in a positive way.  When we embrace life with an open mind, new and exciting things happen. I had been experimenting with raw cashews, tahini, and even tofu but non of these were quite right. Then this happened. A fridge full of fresh herbs, a can of coconut cream, and a light bulb in my vegan culinary brain!!  The result was perfect!  I happily share with you this treasure of a recipe and one of the most satisfying and creamy salads I have enjoyed since going vegan! Coconut cream was just right to replace the buttermilk in traditional ranch dressing. The longer it sat in the fridge, the more the flavor of the herbs overpowered the taste of coconut until all that remained was a delicious, creamy, herb flavored dressing.
Cobb salad is traditionally served with meats and hard boiled eggs but I thought a little color and veganization was in order! I hope you guys enjoy this Rainbow Cobb Salad with Coconut Cream Ranch Dressing as much as I do!

Coconut Cream Ranch Dressing Ingredients:
1 can coconut cream
2 Tbsp. chives, chopped
4 Tbsp. basil, chopped
3 Tbsp. parsley, chopped (I used curly but Italian will work as well)
2 tsp. dry dill
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. Herbs de Province
1 1/2 tsp. Pink Himalayan Salt
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to blender and blend well. Place in the refrigerator in a covered container overnight to allow the herb flavors to develop and for the coconut flavor to settle and become more mild. It will thicken as it cools so if you plan to use this as dip then it is ready to eat straight from the fridge. For a dressing, allow the ranch to come to room temperature before serving. If you want it a little less thick, toss in the blender and blend for about 20 seconds to warm it up.  You can also add a little water to the blender to thin the dressing if you like but this will dilute the flavor a bit.
Rainbow Cobb Salad Ingredients (Serves 4):

6 cups romaine, shredded into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup beet, red or golden, peeled and diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
1/4 cup red onion, cut into slivers
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup tomato, seeded, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
To Serve: Layer a bed of romaine on each plate, to that add a small amount of all veggies and sprouts and drop about 2-3 Tbsp. of dressing on each plate. Lightly toss and enjoy! Of course, this salad can be enjoyed with any assortment of vegetables, sprouts or microgreens that you might have on hand.  The ones used in this recipe are my favorites but salads are versatile and it is always best to use what you have on hand, what is organic, and what is in season. The possibilities are endless and the rich colors and flavors of this salad are sure to satisfy year round!

Thank you for stopping by the Venturing Vegan Blog! Happy eating!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Taco Salad with Cauliflower Chorizo and a Spicy Jalapeno Cilantro Dressing

It's August and summer is simultaneously in full swing and on it's way out.  Green leaves are beginning to change and the sweet scent of autumn has drifted into the air.  But summer isn't over yet! This past weekend I spent a lot of time outside enjoying the sunshine and beach while the glorious weather holds out. It's Washington so rainy days/weeks in summer are totally normal. We have a saying here that if the sun is out stop what you are doing and go outside! Well, the sun was out all weekend and so was I! Fall and winter in the Pacific Northwest mean lots of cloudy days drizzly, wet weather.  When you know that long winter is lingering up ahead, it's imperative to luxuriate in the wonderful summer season.  Luckily, I think I've been doing a pretty good job of it. If you follow me on Instagram (@venturingvegan) then you've got a pretty good idea of what I've been up to. If not, here's a glimpse of my August... Typical life by the Salish sea... boats, bonfires, beach and lots of swimming!
Spending time doing activities in the sun can really work up an appetite but in the heat and my bikini, I don't want something that is too heavy or that will load me down with digestion. Salad is the perfect summer meal because it is fresh, colorful, and can be very filling without being too heavy.  Plus, it's perfect for adding in lots of raw veggies and good fiber!
Since going gluten free at the beginning of the year, I've become quite the adventurer in the kitchen.  Going from vegetarian to vegan had a bit of learning curve cutting out dairy and eggs but there is wheat is everything! Once I went gluten free that meant that most vegan meat substitutes were off limits. The soy chorizo that I once loved contains wheat gluten (hello upset tummy and bloat) so I decided to experiment in new and unprocessed ways. Since I already made a Raw Sunflower Chorizo salad, I thought a cooked chorizo salad would be nice. Having recently spent the weekend with a dear friend of mine, who happens to be a chef, I found myself falling in love with cauliflower. He made the most amazing grilled cauliflower dish with corn and tomatoes. With this heart healthy cruciferous on the mind, I thought why not?! Turns out, this incredibly healthy superfood is also incredibly versatile!  Yay to cruciferous veggies!!  Let's get started!

Cauliflower Chorizo Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, cored, broken into florets
1/2 - 2/3 cup jarred tomato sauce
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed, minced
4 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cauliflower Chorizo Method:
Into a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the cauliflower florets. Then pulse until the florets are broken down into small pieces.  It should look something like this:
Now, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeno and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the onion turns translucent.  To the onions and jalapeno, add the cauliflower and spices.  Stir well.  Then add the garlic and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Stir occasionally taking care not to let the garlic burn.  The kitchen should start smelling pretty incredible right about now!  Once the spices and cauliflower have cooked it's time to add the tomato sauce.  Pour it into the pan and stir well making sure everything is coated in sauce.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and the juices from the sauce have been absorbed.  This is cauliflower chorizo!! Give it a taste to see if it needs additional spice but it should be spot on and look something like this:
Now you can make your salads.
Taco Salad Ingredients: (serves 4)
6 cups romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup corn (I used frozen corn that I thawed but grilled corn would be divine)
2 avocados, pitted, diced
3/4 cup black beans
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
cilantro to garnish, optional
Daiya Shredded Cheddar Cheese to Garnish, optional
A few tortilla chips on the side, optional
Spicy Jalapeno Cilantro Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2-3 Tbsp. evoo
1 garlic clove
1 lime, juiced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded, diced
2-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of cumin (around 1/8 tsp.)
Spicy Jalapeno Cilantro Dressing Method:
Add all ingredients to a blender and process until creamy and smooth.
To plate:
Create a bed of romaine lettuce as the foundation. Then add the cauliflower chorizo in the center as the focal point. Add the corn, tomato, beans, and avocado around the chorizo. Garnish with shredded vegan cheese and cilantro. Add the dressing and enjoy!
Thank you for stopping by Venturing Vegan and as always a big thank you to YOU for adventuring in vegan eats! Each plant powered bite makes a better and brighter future for you and the world we live in! Enjoy and always feel free to share!