Spicy Collards & White Beans

There’s really nothing like a big ol’ plate of beans ‘n greens to fill you up and make you feel super-duper healthy. Although I never ate collards growing up, I’m so glad to have discovered them as an adult. Packed full of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, they make a great nutrient-dense side dish.

For meat-eaters, the classic pot of stewed collards features ham or bacon — ugh. I’m skipping right over the typical salty, smoky flavors in favor of something lighter and a little more heart-healthy: a brothy, spicy pot of collards and beans. Steven and I chowed down on our collards with dry-fried tofu in a miso-maple sauce; they’d also be great with grilled tempeh or even some seitan sausages.

Spicy Collards & White Beans

Spicy Collards & White Beans
Serves two

  • 1 bunch collards, de-stemmed, rolled, and cut into ribbons
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion (about 7 oz), diced very finely
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups no- or low-sodium vegetable broth (I use a salt-free homemade broth)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 8 oz cannellini beans (about half a can)

In a large saucepan or small stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are starting to get translucent. (You can prepare the collards during this time.) Add the vegan Worcestershire sauce and maple syrup and stir to coat the onions and garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes, then add the collards and broth to the pot. Bring the greens to a boil and then reduce the heat.

Let the greens simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, checking them occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn’t boiled away. (If it’s getting low, add a few tablespoons more broth or water.) After 30 minutes, the liquid should be much lower, but the pot should not be dry at all. Add the beans to the pot, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more red pepper flakes if it’s not spicy enough for you. Eat!

Note: If you’re using canned beans, feel free to throw the whole can in there — you’ll just have a higher bean-to-green ratio. Not that that’s a bad thing…!

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl

“I could eat this for lunch seven days a week,” said Steven, after tasting a forkful of last night’s dinner. High praise? Well, coming from a guy who is actually notorious for eating the same lunch every workday for nearly a month… maybe not. But I’ll take it.

On any given day, I’ve got a couple recipe ideas buzzing around my brain. I toy with them, mull them over, research similar recipes. Sometimes I actually make them. Every so often, though, a wholly unplanned meal idea just pops, fully-formed, into my head. I don’t ignore impulses like those—I head straight to the kitchen to cook. Thus was born Monday night’s dinner.

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl

Tangy and abundantly flavorful, this dish is a winner. A zesty, creamy lemon-Dijon sauce is the perfect accompaniment for the more subdued flavors of broccoli and quinoa. This bowl is a surprisingly filling, fun-to-eat side dish that probably tastes just as good cold from the fridge as it did warm from the pot. You could add some baked tofu for some extra protein and to kick this into entree territory.

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl
Serves six (as a side dish); four (as an entree)

For the Bowl

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used a salt-free homemade broth)
  • 3 heads broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional; for topping)

For the Lemon-Dijon Sauce

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 T Vegenaise
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa and vegetable broth in a small saucepan on high heat. Once the broth boils, reduce heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa has soaked up all the water and is light and fluffy.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Vigorously whisk the wet ingredients together until emulsified, then add the spices to taste. (You could use a food processor or immersion blender, but this is such a small portion that you can easily whisk it by hand.) Place the finished sauce in the fridge.

As the quinoa finishes cooking, chop the broccoli into small florets (if you haven’t already) and steam it lightly, for about five minutes. You want it to be not-quite fork tender; it should still have a little bite. I used a steamer pot, but you can use your favorite steaming method.

When the quinoa and broccoli are both done, mix them together in a large bowl. Remove the lemon-Dijon sauce from the fridge, shake it, and pour it over the quinoa-broccoli mixture. Let it sit for at least five minutes to absorb the flavors, top with pine nuts, and eat!

Lemon-Dijon Broccoli & Quinoa Bowl

A Jewel of a Vegetable

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."

Although I most definitely consider myself a vegetable lover, sometimes I take vegetables for granted. I think of them as the workhorses of the food world, the dependable yet homely counterpart to their vibrant, flashy fruit relatives. But I’m doing veggies a disservice by valuing them solely for their interiors and not for their exteriors. My tatsoi experience reminded me that vegetables can, in fact, rival their fruit cousins in color and shape and simple beauty. At the co-op this week, I discovered another vegetable that easily outshines many – if not most – fruits. Enter the scarlet turnip:

Two vibrantly pink turnips, one intact and one cut in half.

Truly beautiful.

The colors in this photograph are very true to life; I gave this image the barest of tweaks in Photoshop. Although this is officially a scarlet turnip, I think it would be more accurately called a fuschia turnip or just an incredibly-freaking-gorgeous turnip. This vibrant shade of pink seems like something you’d find in a Crayola box, not in the produce section of your grocery store. Its interior is also striking:

A cross-section of the turnip, which is white with a star-like geometric pattern of pink dots.

Yes, this is a vegetable.

This looks like some sort of exotic tropical fruit and not a humble turnip, doesn’t it? It’s truly beautiful. Perhaps I should have found some way of cooking this striking vegetable that would’ve better preserved its color, but I ended up making a fairly simple Yukon gold potato and turnip gratin with it, a layered confection filled with an oozy, creamy sauce. The recipe isn’t quite perfect – who knew “plain” soy creamer is actually sweetened?! – so I’ll withhold it for now, but I will share a teaser photo:

A small casserole dish holds the gratin; you can see the slightly crispy, browned top layer.

Not as beautiful as its component pieces.

The cooked turnips retained a bit of their jeweled hue; each slice was suffused with a magenta undertone that almost made me hesitant to eat it… almost.

What’s the most beautiful vegetable you’ve ever encountered? What would you make with such a gorgeously colored turnip?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

Inaugural MoFo Post: Fun with Tatsoi!

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."

Let the food lovin’ begin – Vegan MoFo is here!

I don’t know about you all, but I’m extremely excited for a month of food blogs bursting at the proverbial seams with recipes, reviews, giveaways, photos, and general vegan awesomeness. Like the last two years I participated, I’m going full steam ahead and planning to post every day. I’ve got some great posts planned, like Recipe Showdowns  (where I’ll pit three recipes against one another), Muffin Mondays (a new muffin recipe every Monday!), and all sorts of other fun things. Heck, I might even finally use some of the awesome (yet overly ambitious) ideas I came up with last MoFo!

But I’m going to kick off MoFo with something much simpler than a big compendium of recipes or an ambitious multi-stage cooking experiment. Today I’m going to talk about tatsoi.

Close-up of the middle of a huge bunch of tatsoi.

Greenery!

This is tatsoi. Like its other leafy green cousins, it packs a nutritional punch, a wallop of vitamins, calcium, and beta carotenes. My co-op offered locally grown, organic tatsoi on sale for $1.79, and I couldn’t resist its beautiful green hue and leafy abundance. To give you a sense of how truly mammoth this head of tatsoi is, here’s a photo of Moria sitting next to it:

Photo of a small dog sitting next to a head of tatsoi, which is propped up against a balcony railing. The tatsoi reaches the dog's neck.

Moria and the Giant Tatsoi (a Roald Dahl knock-off novel?)

All that goodness for less than $2.00! Having never eaten tatsoi before, I decided to saute it with some mushrooms and garlic and serve it with tofu. First, I soaked about half the bundle in cold water, then gave it a vigorous spin in my salad spinner. After spinning, the leaves looked irresistibly verdant:

A large bowl of tatsoi leaves, shot from above.

After a spin cycle.

Before spinning my tatsoi, I’d marinated a few thick slabs of extra-firm tofu in a mixture of soy sauce, agave nectar, powdered ginger, and granulated garlic. As I prepped my tatsoi, I sauteed the tofu slices until they were just barely blackened on each side. I [very] loosely followed this recipe for the tatsoi, adding mushrooms and substituting sambal oelek for the curry paste. I also omitted the vegetable broth and soy sauce, because my greens didn’t need extra liquid. I sprinkled my cooked greens with sesame seeds, plated them with some raw tatsoi leaves, topped them with tofu, and ended up with this pretty plate:

Plate of sauteed greens topped with two thick slices of tofu and surrounded by a circle of raw leaves. A pair of chopsticks sits off to the side of the plate.

Tatsoi - it's what's for dinner.

This was really, really good. I wanted the tatsoi to play the star role in this one-time-only performance of “The Sun is Setting; Crap, Let Me Take a Quick Photo on My Balcony,” but I must admit that the tofu stole the show – it was perfectly cooked, a little chewy on the outside and creamy on the inside, with a fantastic subtle flavor. It complemented the tatsoi nicely; my greens were simple and tasty, and they gave a solid performance of their own. I loved that the raw leaves had just the tiniest bite to them, like a tamer version of mustard greens.

I can’t wait to use up the remaining half of my tatsoi! Have you had tatsoi before? How did you (or would you) prepare it?

I’ll leave you with an outtake from my balcony photo shoot – here’s Moria’s introduction to tatsoi:

In the foreground is a big bunch of tatsoi. Moria (a small brussels griffon/shih tzu mix) sniffs at them in the background.

Curious dog is curious.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway!