Tag Archives: beans

The Ragin’ Cajun

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In keeping with the vegetarian theme from the previous post, I have a fun and slightly more complex recipe for you today. Only complex in the sense that it’s more time consuming than the Four Bean Salad, not complicated in a “Holy Chihuahua, who does he think we are? Emeril Lagasse?” kind of a thing. Funny I should mention Emeril as this meal is very Cajun inspired and we all know Emeril is the king of Louisiana Cajun cooking. BAM! But where he cooks with mostly pork fat and ham hocks (and where is this supposed hock located on a pig exactly?), I cook with much healthier non-piggy items like vegetable oils and robust spices– still provides all the flavor without all the hypertensive and artery clogging after-effects.

With the upcoming arrivial of mi papa’s family for Thanksgiving, I’ve been frantically trying to come up with meals to make while they’re here that will not only please their palates but also coincide with my passion for healthy lower-fat cooking. They live down in New Orleans, deep in the heart of fried chicken and waffles and the infamous Mardi Gras King Cake. Where vegetables are buried beneath a thick layer of oily breading, and Sweet Tea is easier to find in stores than fresh water. Ahh, yes, the South. Now don’t get me wrong. His family doesn’t exactly eat like that on a regular basis. It’s just that my type of healthier and sometimes vegetarian cooking has often been referred to as “diet food” by the elder male member of his family… not to name any names, of course.  I want to be able to cook for them without their feeling as though the meals lack in depth and flavor. Now I’ve been toying around the idea of trying my paw at making my own vegetarian sausage for awhile now, but always been a little nervous to take on this endeavor. For one thing, just the idea of a vegetarian sausage can make some people kinda skeptical or want to gag. For others, even the idea of real sausage makes them want to yack too. But once I decided that I would like to make mi Southern familia a big ‘ol pot of red beans and rice during their upcoming visit, my plan for concocting my own vegetarian sausage went into full swing. Now don’t let the ingredients or pictures scare you. It’s really quite simple and incredibly tasty, despite looking a little odd. And once added to the Red Beans and Rice, it ends up absorbing all the flavors from the sauce and spices and becomes just a nice accompaniment to the dish. Oh and did I mention, one serving of the sausage contains nearly 20 grams of protein. Yowza!

Homemade Vegan Sausage

2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten

1/2 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1 3/4 cup water or vegetable broth

2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari sauce

2 tbsp Liquid Bragg’s Aminos

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

2) Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3) Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.

4) Add wet ingredients to dry and combine into a thick dough using your hands.

5) Roll out dough blob into a two long loaves and roll up in a greased sheets of foil like a Tootsie Roll.

6) Bake for 90 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and adding to Red Beans and Rice recipe.

*If you have any questions about the ingredients in this recipe, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. I would be happy to answer any concerns you may have 🙂

Louisiana-Style Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice

2 tsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 medium size green bell pepper, chopped

2 celery stalks, sliced thin

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 cups chopped homemade vegan sausage

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/2 tsp ground red pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp dried sage

1 tbsp dried parsley

1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning, I used Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning

4 1/2 cups water

2 cups long-grain brown rice

Directions:

1) Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Saute until onion is softened, about 5-7 minutes.

2) Add vegan sausage, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and seasonings. Adjust heat to low, cover and simmer 40-45 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, bring the rice and water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 35-40 minutes or almost all the liquid is absorbed. Serve beans over rice and enjoy!

Mi mama and papa both really loved this dish. I’m crossing my paws and toes that the rest of mi familia will love it too. And if not, well I guess I could always throw in a couple ham hocks and brush up on my CPR in preparation for the ensuing heart attacks. Woohoo, I can’t wait for the holidays.

Well, mi amigos, I better be going now. Mi mama just got home and needs me to help her take off her shoes. I think she forgets that I don’t have any thumbs. I hope she doesn’t mind if I chew them off.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while now (which if you haven’t, you really should start because I’m seriously quite adorable) you may have noticed that mi papa is the only one in this house that consumes the meals I whip up containing red meat, chicken or turkey. Why? Well, it’s not because he is too much of pig and won’t share these dishes with mi mama… although I have seen him do that when around a pan of brownies. No, it’s simply because mi mama is a vegetarian. Well actually, if you want to get more technical, she’s a vegetarian who once every two or three months will partake in a piece or two (or twelve) of salmon sashimi when out on a sushi date with mi papa. Overall, though, she does not eat any red meat, pork, chicken, turkey, dog, cat, antelope, kangaroo, etc. Many assume her refusal to eat animals is due to some sort of passion against animal cruelty or even for health reasons. No no, the main reason she stopped consuming meat many many years ago was simply because she no longer liked the taste of it. Over the years, her drive to maintain her vegetarianism has definitely been encouraged by those other factors and she enjoys knowing that both her body and those of farm animals benefit from her abstaining from meat.

One of the main questions mi mama gets asked the most when opening up about her vegetarianism (besides the inane “So do you just eat a bunch of lettuce) is, “But where do you get your protein?” I always love when she gets asked this question because it allows me the opportunity to step in and spout off a bunch of nutritional information I have studied and learned over the past 7 years. After all, I am not only a culinary genius but also a highly educated scholar in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Ever heard of Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food?” Yeah, I was his ghost writer. Not that I like to brag about it or anything… and Michael, I am still expecting my paycheck in the mail any day now… hmmm

So back to where mi mama gets her protein from. The majority comes from plant sources such as beans and legumes as well as some dairy sources like eggs, cheese and yogurt. Did you know that just one cup of cooked chickpeas or kidney beans contains almost 15 grams of protein? Or that one cup of nonfat Greek yogurt provides a whopping 25 grams? That’s almost the same as a 3 oz chicken breast or piece of steak. And no poultry or cow had to be harmed in the process. Something to think about, people. So basically, mi mama is not lacking in the protein department by maintaining a vegetarian diet. In fact, I think one of my next posts will be a more in-depth assessment of exactly what she eats over the course of a day and the nutritional breakdown of each meal and snack. This way one can see just how easy it really is to maintain optimal health while skipping the meat.

And I have a simple side dish recipe for you today that is not only tasty, but completely vegetarian and provides nearly 16 grams of protein per serving… and that’s just in a side dish! Hot dog!

Protein-Packed Four Bean Salad

15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup frozen edamame, thawed

2 medium-sized carrots, diced

1/2 large red onion, diced

1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) In a large bowl, mix the beans, parsley and rosemary.

2) In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. Add dressing to the large bowl and toss to coat.

3) Chill in the refrigerator (the beans, not you) for several hours or overnight before serving.

Incredibly simple and oh so tasty. Bring this to your next potluck or picnic and it will surely be a crowd favorite. Trust me.

Well I truly must be going now. I need to go wait by the front door. I think mi papa is coming home soon.