Vegan moussaka recipe mash-up

There was an eggplant in the fridge, a vow to try new recipes on the table and a snowy Saturday afternoon.

The Veganomicon doth provide.

The above is actually a melange of The Veganomicon's Eggplant Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream and an old favorite from The New Basics (minus the lamb and creamy parts). I substituted chopped almonds for the breadcrumbs (gluten free!) and added dried apricots, raisins and extra spices to the sauce (cumin, additional cinnamon, some ginger and a dollop of agave to cut the tartness of the apricots, which have been lolling about the cabinets since the Bush administration.)

Don't try this on a weeknight or you'll be cursing your casserole. There are vegetables to roast (doing this earlier in the day would save oodles

of evening prep time) and tofu to Cuisinart. We served it with a plain arugula salad dressed in lemon and olive oil.

The clean up was epic. But the meal? Divine!


Gluten-free vegan pumpkin cornbread

See. It's not air. You really can make a gluten-free vegan pumpkin cornbread that tastes like...cornbread. Really good cornbread.

With tomato-fennel soup ready for dinner, I scurried around the Internets looking for something quick and starchy to make, knowing soup wouldn't sustain Mr. Nake-id. Cornbread seemed the perfect thing: autumnal and just a bit sweet to offset the tarty tomatoes. And there was cornmeal in the fridge.

Then I wondered whether it could be made gluten free.

This recipe turned up, which I combined with this newly veganized favorite, Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread. The bread is crumbly, full of corn flavor with just a hint of sage. Definitely Thanksgiving-worthy!

The recipe follows:

    2 cups organic yellow cornmeal
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned)
    1/4 cup butter-flavored grapeseed oil or neutral-tasting oil
    1 cup nondairy milk
    8 or 9 whole fresh sage leaves
    1/4 cup agave nectar, or to taste

    Preheat oven to 425. Spray medium-size cast-iron skillet with cooking spray and lay sage leaves in bottom of skillet.

    Carefully pour batter into your skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and invert onto serving plate.

Grumpy Cheap Vegan: Weeds!

A couple of years ago, Sundari from Heirloom Gardens sold me some purslane along with other greens. It's an au currant vegetable, full of omega 3's and vitamin C. And, like she said, it's also probably growing in the cracks of your sidewalk.

I chopped it up and put it in a salad, and as we ate, I had that queasy feeling you get when eating something with questionable provenance--like chicken beak or eel roe. Or anything Andrew Zimmer ingests. So with a bumper crop of purslane invading inhabiting our garden, I thought, what if we could obviate its identity? Out came the food processor.

Take your favorite pesto recipe--for basil, sage or parsely--and substitute the leaves from these ubiquitious plants. I used two large weeds, a healthy handful of walnuts, one garlic clove, one lemon, sea salt and enough extra virgin olive oil to get the mixture to "pesto."

We spread it on homemade flatbreads and topped it with grilled vegetables. Lovely. Organic. And free!

N.B. After separating hundreds of purslane leaves from their stems, I've realized that no matter how satisfying it is to eat the enemy, there are more efficient weed mitigation strategies.

Fast Food Thursday: Tofu Jerky

Would it be more appetizing to call it, braised tofu?

Though it requires some time in the oven, this dish takes minimal preparation, allowing plenty of time to play online mah jong knit, write or improve one's mind while it cooks. The tofu comes out kinda rubbery--think salty eraser--the ideal consistency for toting along on a hike or brown bagging to work. Serve it with a savory brown rice and wilted greens for a tastey weeknight vegetarian meal.

(This recipe comes from our buddy Brett via somebody else with whom we have no acquaintance, so we're giving the credit to Brett.)

2 lbs extra firm tofu

2 tsp garlic powder

1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Bragg Liquid Aminos

Instructions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice tofu in 1/4-inch cutlets and place in large baking dish. Dust lightly with garllic powder and even more lightly with the cayenne pepper. Squirt cutlets with Bragg Liquid Aminos (not too much or they'll end up really salty). Bake for 30 minutes.

Lower oven heat to 400. Remove baking dish, flip cutlets and repeat the above instructions with the garlic-cayenne-Bragg's mixture. Return baking dish to oven and bake for another 40 minutes or until golden brown and nice and rubbery.

I swear, this tastes really good.

Fast Food Thursday: Baba ganoush

Every Sunday Ferris pitches his awning in Westcliffe on Highway 96 next to Western Auto to sell fruits and vegetables mostly from Pueblo. His farm stand produce is gorgeous and he keeps a nice patter up with customers. We've been buying from him for years. This Sunday we came away with a huge bucket of beets--much to Mitch's dismay--two fat eggplants and a basket of peaches from Palisade.

We both adore eggplant, so last night I consulted a cookbook or two and a few Internet sites for a solid baba ganoush recipe. Overall, they are pretty consistent:

1 eggplant, grilled and peeled

3 Tbs tahini

1/2 - 1 tsp salt

the juice of one lemon

2 cloves garlic, minched

Instructions: Whip it in your food processor until the ingredients are unrecognizable and garnish with something, cumin, paprika or chopped flat-leaf parsley. Chow. (Great on pita bread, pita chips, baby carrots, your finger.)

I'd show a picture, but as delicious as this combination is, it really does look like moth-colored glop garnished with something. 

Changes: I'd cut way back on the garlic, maybe half a clove. (My breath today would fell a stegasaurus.) Also, I recommend grilling the eggplant as opposed to roasting. Imparts a nice, smokey flavor.

Also makes great finger food for convention watching. Cheers!

Fast Food Thursday: Make It Work

With Project Runway starting at 7 p.m. MST--and me determined to have butt-on-sofa-needles-in-hand precisely on time--dinner last night was a hasty enterprise. With some spousal grilling assistance, we enjoyed Teriyaki Chicken Salad ala Project Runway.

Two boneless chicken breasts, marinated in the medium hot Yakitori sauce from Wok & Roll (Soy Vay Very Very Teriyaki would also work)

1-2 cups chopped pineapple (happened to have some in the fridge)

2-3 Tbs chopped scallions (happend to have those in the fridge, as well)

4 cups baby spinach or mixed greens

Rikki's Gourmet Miso Dressing

Grill and slice chicken.  Toss with fruit, vegetables and dressing. Enjoy. Turn on TV.

Dedicated to Roxanne, who introduced me to the addiction that is Wok & Roll.