Kale Caesar Salad | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Twenty-Seven

After a long weekend spent gorging on indulgent meals in Asheville, I knew exactly what I wanted tonight: KALE SALAD. It doesn’t really get much more wholesome or healthier than that, you know?

Steven took the lead, putting together most of the salad while I was at work. He chose this kale Caesar — a fine choice! The crispy garlic roasted chickpeas made for a nice topping, which we augmented with some store-bought croutons he picked up (not pictured). I had intended to add some freshly picked cherry tomatoes from the garden, but then completely forgot in my hungry state. :)

I fully expect to require a snack this evening… although the salad’s tahini-based dressing made the dish nice and creamy and filling, it’s still not a large dinner! I’ll probably make a bowl of popcorn, a go-to night snack. I’ve got a few pre-mixed toppings (one that’s inspired by sour cream and onion, and another that tastes like Doritos), so it’s easy to make a flavorful bowl. I also like doing kettle corn, although that requires a bit more work. We shall see.

And now I’m heading out to the garden to see how wild it got over the weekend. Tomatoes, prepare to be plucked from your vines!

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties

Happy 2017, pals! After the craziness of Vegan MoFo in November, I went 100% radio silent in December. What can I say? The holidays are always so busy, and since November was a mad rush of cooking, baking, recipe-writing, photographing, and blogging, I was pretty much spent when it ended. Let’s just call it a hiatus and move on!

I nearly always enter a new year with a few weeks of vegan cookie binging behind me, ready to incorporate just a little more good green food into my diet. It’s not that I don’t eat healthy foods during the holidays (I think I’ve eaten my weight in clementines in the past month!), but I tend to also eat lots of baked goods and indulgences. January seems like a natural time to re-calibrate and reset my eating patterns. Is it a resolution? Nah, just an intention to include more nourishing ingredients in my meals.

So in that spirit, today I bring you some simple oven-baked veggie patties, inspired by the sweet potato and mung bean croquettes I made a few years back. This recipe again features sweet potatoes as a base, but it also incorporates a handful of steamed kale and some crumbled tempeh for extra protein. I kept the flavors simple — fresh ginger, soy sauce, and curry powder — but you can add whatever spices appeal to you. The final step (brushing the patties with melted coconut oil and broiling for a few minutes) adds a little crunch and some extra flavor, but it’s totally optional; feel free to omit it if you’re cutting down on added fats.

Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties // vegan // govegga.com

Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties

Makes 12 patties

  • 1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 block tempeh, crumbled into small pieces
  • About 2 cups kale, chopped finely (measure loosely after slicing)
  • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced thin (measure after slicing)
  • 1/4 C coconut flour (or other flour; coconut adds a little nutty flavor)
  • 1.5 T freshly grated ginger
  • 1.5 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 T curry powder
  • 1/2 T coconut oil, melted (optional)

Method

Begin by steaming the tempeh and the chopped sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. While they’re steaming, you can finely chop the kale and slice the scallions. Set both aside.

When the potatoes are done, add them and the tempeh to a large mixing bowl. Let them cool slightly while you steam the kale just until soft, about 3 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚F and spray a baking sheet with oil (or line with parchment paper).

Using a wooden spoon, mash the sweet potatoes and tempeh mixture. Add the scallions, ginger, coconut flour, soy sauce, curry powder, and kale, and mix thoroughly. Then use your hands to form about 1/4 cup of the mixture into patties about 2″ across and 3/4″ thick; you should have enough of the mixture to make 12 patties. Place on the prepared sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the patties with the melted coconut oil and broil for 5 minutes, just until they start to brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

~~~

These soft fork-tender patties are best eaten drizzled with your favorite sauce, alongside a big helping of veggies. You could try this peanutty coconut sauce or this similar curried version.

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Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties // vegan // govegga.com

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

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Fully Loaded Vegan Colcannon

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week One: Treat Yourself (and others)!

Treat yourself… to mashed potatoes for dinner!

Vegan colcannon: fully loaded mashed potatoes // govegga.com

If you’re anything like me, you relish any opportunity to chow down on mashed potatoes. I think it’s unfortunate that they’re typically treated as a side dish instead of a main or a meal in their own right. Enter colcannon, the Irish dish featuring mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage… or both! My version of colcannon is chock-full of veggies, with just enough vegan butter and plant milk to make it nice and creamy. I also add a few tablespoons of vegan mayo. Sounds crazy (and kinda weird), but you don’t taste it at all, and it ups the creamy factor. You can certainly leave it out if you’d prefer. Either way, these vegan mashed potatoes are a meal unto themselves. Treat yourself!

Vegan colcannon: fully loaded mashed potatoes // govegga.com

Fully Loaded Colcannon

  • 2.5 lbs of your favorite mashing potatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 head cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 5 large kale leaves, roughly shredded or sliced into ribbons
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 T vegan butter
  • 1 T vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Measure out the almond milk and let it come to room temperature while you cook.

Add water to a large stockpot and heat on the stove. While the water is coming to a boil, chop the potatoes. You can peel them first, but I like to leave the skins on. When they’re ready, add them to the stockpot (whether it’s boiling or not). When it comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and let gently boil for 15-20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes, just until they start turning golden. Add the cabbage and a sprinkle of salt and stir to coat with oil. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the cabbage starts getting tender. If necessary, add a little water to the pan to prevent the cabbage from sticking. Add the kale to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Check the potatoes. When they’re fork-tender, drain them and add to a large mixing bowl. Using a potato ricer, masher, or your favorite tool, mash away! Add the butter early on so it melts right in, then add the almond milk and vegan mayonnaise once everything starts getting creamy.  Add spices to taste; you can also add more butter, milk, and mayo to taste. Finally, fold in the kale and cabbage mixture. Taste for salt and pepper and season as necessary.

Enjoy for dinner, and have the leftovers for lunch the next day!

Notes

  • Your average Idaho or russet potato works beautifully, but I’ve used golden potatoes and they work just fine.
  • Feel free to mix in seitan or bacon bits for added flavor and protein.
  • Go wild with the creamy ingredients to taste. I won’t judge!
  • You can reserve the cooking liquid to add back in as you mash. I don’t do this often, but it certainly works for a less fatty option.
  • Colcannon is traditionally eaten by itself, without gravy, but if you want to add some, I won’t tell. Opt for a recipe with lots of umami.

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Vegan colcannon: fully loaded mashed potatoes // govegga.com

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Kale, Sweet Potato, & Quinoa Bowl with Ginger-Peanut Sauce (and, I’m going to New Zealand!)

If it’s not clear yet, I’m all about bowls. Gimme a grain + a green + a delicious sauce and I’m a happy camper. One of my favorite veggie combos is kale and sweet potatoes — they make such a great pair, both flavor-wise and texture-wise. Today’s bowl gives kale + sweet potatoes the chance to team up with quinoa and a gingery peanut sauce for a nutritious, flavorful meal. A drizzle of fresh lime juice is the perfect finishing touch!

Kale, Sweet Potato, & Quinoa Bowl

Sorry for the subpar photo!

Kale, Sweet Potato, & Quinoa Bowl with Ginger-Peanut Sauce
Serves 3-4

For the Bowl

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1.5 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped (I used lacinato kale, but curly kale would be great too)
  • 1/2 lime for serving
  • Chopped peanuts or hemp seeds for serving (optional)

For the Sauce

  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • Scant 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon sambal oelek
  • Water to thin the sauce

Using your favorite steaming method, steam the sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they’re fork-tender. While they’re steaming, you can chop the kale or prepare the sauce. To make the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients and add enough water to emulsify the mixture. You can add more or less water depending on how thin or thick you like your sauce. Set the prepared sauce aside.

When the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, remove them from the steamer and set them aside. Add the chopped kale and steam it for about 5 minutes or until it’s tender enough for your tastes. (I leave the stems on, so I like to make sure they’re tender too.)

To assemble the bowls, add the quinoa, top with kale, and then top with sweet potatoes. Add the sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and toppings, if using. Enjoy!

~~~

In news that’s tangentially related to food, I’m going to New Zealand! I’m leaving this Thursday and staying with a friend who’s working there currently. She’s based in Auckland, but we have lots of adventures planned on both islands. I’ve been researching lots of tasty Auckland dining options, but let me know if you have recommendations! I’ll also be in the Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Christchurch, and somewhere else on the South Island yet to be determined (probably near Arthur’s Pass).

Finally, as promised… I shaved my head! I raised nearly $700 for childhood cancer research thanks to the generosity of my friends, family, and coworkers. And you know what? Having a shaved head is awesome. I feel so bad-ass! (Not to mention that my showers are now so, so quick!) I’m excited to explore New Zealand with my new look. :)

Kelly After

Kale and White Bean Soup

LVV MoFo 2014 main

Years and years before kale was thrust into the spotlight by foodies in search of the next food superstar, my mama started making a kale soup that my entire family loved. I thought of that soup today, the first chilly day of the year, and knew I needed to make it. Kale soup, of course, is nothing new, and I do feel silly posting a recipe for something that’s as simple as simple can be. But if you have yet to discover the combination of kale and white beans, this soup is for you.

Kale and White Bean Soup

Kale and White Bean Soup
Serves six

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, diced
  • 3 medium-sized yellow potatoes, diced (about 1/4″ cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • Dash cloves
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 10-12 oz. curly kale, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces
  • 2 cups navy beans (or other white beans)
  • 4-5 cups water (or additional vegetable broth)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and add the garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds, then add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and spices and give everything a big stir. Add the vegetable broth and turn up the heat to medium. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the water or additional broth Add a big scoop of kale and stir it in; after it wilts a bit, add another big scoop. Repeat until you’ve added all the kale. (Or you can just add it all in at once if your stockpot is big enough!). Add the beans and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the kale is as tender as you like it. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Kale and White Bean Soup

My version of Mom’s kale soup uses a spice blend similar to that you’d find in chorizo, giving it a smoky, spicy flavor. But you can switch up the spices based your tastes. Like most soups, this one is endlessly versatile. You can also add and remove many of the ancillary ingredients. No celery? No problem. Feel like adding some bulk? Throw in some orzo or quinoa. In a rush? Use Trader Joe’s bagged kale; just pull off the larger stem bits. You could even reduce the spices and add some soyrizo.

Mom’s kale soup is, unsurprisingly, ridiculously healthy. A serving gives you 17 grams of protein, 18% of your recommended daily value of calcium, and 29% of your RDV of iron. You’ll also get lots of vitamin A and vitamin C. Thanks, Mom!

What’s your favorite soup?

TJ’s Gourmet: Polenta with Kale, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and White Bean Puree

There are few more masochistic things about me than my desire to do most things The Hard Way. If there’s an easy way out… I’m probably not going to take it. There’s definitely some flawed thinking here, though I’m not sure exactly why it happens. Maybe I don’t like to feel lazy? Maybe I like to feel put-upon? I don’t know. It’s probably not good.

But.

Sometimes, even I have to admit that the easy way out is totally awesome.

Like prepared polenta.

And canned beans.

And prepared sun-dried tomatoes.

And organic kale… in a bag.

And getting all those things at a single store.

Yes, I practically live at Trader Joe’s these days. Other than Giant, it’s the nearest grocery store, and it has a good selection of vegan and organic products. Do I miss my Madison co-op and feel horribly guilty for buying non-local bagged kale? Yep. Am I willing to drive to the nearest ridiculously busy Whole Foods and spend absurd amounts of money instead? Nope.

So yeah, we have a lot of TJ’s products in our pantry. Last night, I put a bunch of them together to make an easy dinner with a surprisingly gourmet feel. Sun-dried tomatoes add a pleasant chewy counterpoint to the crunchy kale and soft polenta, and the puree ties everything together.

This is a lazy meal that doesn’t taste lazy. Whizzing up the puree was the hardest part.

Instagram photo of a bed of kale and sun-dried tomatoes with half-moon polenta pieces topped with a white bean puree.

Early sunset = bad lighting = iPad Instagram photos galore!

Polenta with Kale, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and White Bean Puree
Serves two

For the puree:

  • 1 can (15 oz) Great Northern beans (or any soft white bean)
  • Scant 2/3 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3/4 t dried thyme
  • 1/2 t garlic powder (I would’ve used fresh garlic, but we were out!)
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika to taste

Everything else:

  • A few large handfuls chopped Tuscan kale
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (the kind that’s packed in oil)
  • Half a tube of prepared polenta, cut into rounds and then sliced into half-moons.

Combine all puree ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a smooth puree. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your preference. Transfer to a small pot and heat on medium-low while preparing the rest of the meal.

In a large non-stick pan, heat a small amount of olive oil on medium. Add the kale and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan and cook for three to four minutes. You can add some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes for added deliciousness. (Minced garlic would be yummy as well, but we were out.) After the kale cooks down and shrinks a bit, add the polenta to the pan. It will be crowded, but you can make room! Cook for another five to seven minutes, flipping the polenta once, until the polenta has a bit of a golden crust.

Turn off the heat and serve: make a layer of kale and tomatoes and top with the polenta. Ladle on a healthy scoop of puree and serve!

What’s your favorite easy “gourmet” dinner? Which Trader Joe’s products do you love? 

K-k-k-kale!

Holy green goodness, Batman!

Oh, what’s that, you ask? Oh, y’know… just a giant bowl of organic kale that I just HARVESTED FROM MY GARDEN. No big deal.

JK, it *is* a big deal – it’s my first harvest of the season! And I did it at 8:30 at night!! It’s totally worth the 8,639 mosquito bites I sustained in the process!!! Totally, totally worth it.

My work offers garden plots for free to employees, since our company owns 500+ acres in semi-rural Wisconsin. The garden is organic – no nasty pesticides allowed. The kale is one of only two plants I didn’t start from seed; when I saw organic kale plants for sale at the farmers’ market a few months ago, I couldn’t resist. And it’s doing well, as you can see! I look forward to a summer full of green monsters. :)

I haven’t been blog-absent because I’ve been diligently working in my garden, though. I actually spent last week at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park (along with Universal + Disney) with my family as a semi-surprise belated 30th anniversary gift to my parents. It was FREAKING AWESOME and totally magical. If only I could really live at Hogwarts. Siiigh.

I’ll post some geektastic photos later, but I’m not sticking around too long – tomorrow I’m hoppin’ a plane for Austin, Texas for a weekend mini-reunion with some of my best friends from college. We graduated a year ago – it’s insane! It’s going to be great to catch up with everyone and pretend we’re young again. :)

Has anybody else been anywhere fun lately?