Category Archives: Appetizers

April 2017 Cooking Class – The Versatile Chickpea

April 2, 2017

Lasagne, salad and foccacia

April’s class featured the versatile chickpea. Chickpeas are not just for falafels and hummus. There is a myriad of different ways to cook with them. We enjoyed Roasted Chickpeas as a snack, Cauliflower Bites made with chickpea flour as an appetizer, a Tomato Based Lasagne with a chickpea ricotta, a White Lasagne using chickpeas blended into the white sauce. The meal was served with a green salad dressed with Oil Free Italian Dressing and Roasted Chickpea croutons and a sprouted grain focaccia. The meal was topped off with a frozen Pineapple Whip.

Chickpeas, also called garbonzo beans, re a powerhouse of nutrition. These legumes are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, folate and magnesium (just 1 cup of chickpeas will provide 84% of your dietary requirement of magnesium)

Chickpeas can be purchased already cooked in tins or frozen. Or you can easily cook them from dry beans. Two of my favorite methods are:

  1. OVERNIGHT SOAK – Soak chickpeas overnight in a large pot with plenty of water. In the morning, drain the soaked chickpeas and cover with fresh water to about 1 inch above the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain and they are ready to use in any recipe.
  2. QUICK SOAK – Place the chickpeas in a large pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover. Let stand for 1 hour. Drain and cover with fresh water to about 1 inch over the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain and use.

I like to cook a large batch of the beans and once cooked and cooled, freeze on a rimmed baking sheet. Once frozen store in a freezer bag and you have cooked beans on hand for any time you need them. They can be quick thawed by placing them in a strainer and running hot water over them.

Besides the whole bean, chickpeas can also be used as a flour. It is common in Indian cooking, but I use it mainly for making an eggy batter for breading veggies like cauliflower (recipe below), eggplant and zucchini. I also use the flour for a vegan omelette and French toast.

As usual, our class started with a Green Smoothie. This month the smoothie was pineapple blueberry with parsley. I love parsley smoothies.

Pineapple Blueberry Parsley Smoothie

Pineapple Blueberry Parsley Smoothie

2 cups parsley

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups pineapple (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth.

 

 

Breaded Cauliflower Bites

Cauliflower Bites

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ½ cup unsweetened and unflavoured plant based milk (almond, cashew, soy, etc)
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour (also called besan, chana or gram flour)
  • Salt, onion powder, garlic powder, to taste (about 1/2 tsp each) and pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix milk, flour and spices in a large bowl until well blended. Add cauliflower florets and toss until well coated. Place bread crumbs in small dish. Dip cauliflower florets in bread crumbs and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Serve as is or with a dipping sauce. Use this same recipe for other veggies like eggplant and zucchini.

Tomato Based Lasagne

NOTE: You may not need all of the noodles, tomato sauce, cheese, or chickpea mixture that you make.

  • 1 pkg lasagne Noodles
    • Prepare according to package directions
  • Approximately 5 cups Tomato Sauce (make your own marinara or use purchased spaghetti sauce)
  • Cashew Cheese:
    • ½  cup cashews
    • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • ½  tsp garlic powder
    • ½  tsp onion powder
    • Juice of ½ lemon (or up to 1 lemon)
    • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ½ tsp paprika
    • ½ cup water (plus more as needed)

Soak cashews for 2 hours or overnight. Place all ingredients except the water in a blender.  Add about ½ cup water and blend until smooth. If necessary, add a splash more water to keep it blending. Taste and adjust seasonings – add more salt, nutritional yeast, lemon juice or spices.

  • Chickpea Ricotta

    Chick peas:

    • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, mashed fine
    • ½  cup chopped spinach or kale
    • 1 tbsp miso (or substitute soy sauce)
    • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
    • Juice of ½ lemon
    • pepper

Mash chickpeas with a fork or by pulsing in a food processor till a fine texture. Mix miso with lemon juice and add to chickpeas.  Flavor the chickpeas with nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Mix in finely chopped kale or spinach. (if using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out excess water)

You can substitute your favourite hummus for the chickpea mixture.

  • Veggie Layer

    Veggies:

    • Mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups)
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 or 2  cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 large pepper (your choice of color), diced
    • 2 carrots, grated or chopped in a food processor
    • Salt and pepper
    • Also can use zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, cauli, etc

Dry fry veggies, without oil, until just tender crisp. If necessary, add a couple tablespoons of water or broth to keep it from sticking to the pan. Use any mixture of vegetables you like. You will need 4 to 6 cups of cooked veggies. Season with salt and pepper

To Assemble:

A standard baking dish will accommodate two layers plus the top layer of noodles and sauce.

  1. Assemble all ingredients, noodles, tomato sauce, cashew cheese, chickpea mixture, and cooked veggies.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Line a large baking dish or lasagne pan with parchment paper
  4. In your parchment lined dish, spread a layer of your tomato sauce
  5. Spread noodles, 1 layer thick over the sauce. Break noodles if necessary to cover all areas
  6. A thin layer of chickpea mixture
  7. A layer of veggies
  8. A layer of cashew cheese
  9. A layer of tomato sauce
  10. Repeat noodles, chickpeas, veggies, cheese and tomato sauce
  11. Top with noodles and tomato sauce for final layer.

Cover with a lid or foil. (Covering the dish first with parchment then foil will keep the topping from sticking to the foil when you remove it.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbling.  Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

White Lasagne

Note: you may not use all the noodles or white sauce that you make.

  • 1 pgk Noodles (brown rice or whole grain)

Cook noodles according to the package directions

  • White Sauce
    • 3 cups cauliflower florets
    • 2 ½  cups water
    • ¾  cup cashews, soaked
    • ¾  cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • ½  cup nutritional yeast
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • Juice of 1 ½  lemons
    • 1 ½  tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp salt

Boil cauliflower until tender. Drain and place cooked cauliflower in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

  • Veggies
    • 4 cups sliced Mushrooms
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 large pepper (yellow, orange or red), diced
    • 2 carrots, grated or chopped in a food processor
    • Finely chopped kale or spinach
    • Salt and pepper
    • Also can use zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, cauli, etc

Dry fry veggies until just tender crisp. If necessary, add a couple tablespoons of water or broth to keep it from sticking to the pan. Use any mixture of vegetables you like. Add kale or spinach at the end of cooking. You will need 4 to 6 cups of cooked veggies. Season with salt and pepper

To Assemble:

  1. A standard baking dish will accommodate 2 layers plus the top layer of noodles and sauce.
  2. Assemble all ingredients – noodles, white sauce  and cooked veggies.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F
  4. Line a large baking dish or lasagne pan with parchment paper
  5. In your parchment lined dish, spread a layer of white sauce
  6. Spread noodles, 1 layer thick over the sauce. Break noodles if necessary to cover all areas
  7. A layer of white sauce
  8. A layer of veggies
  9. A layer of white sauce
  10. Repeat noodles, white sauce,  veggies, white sauce
  11. Top with noodles and white sauce for final layer.
  12. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake at 350F for 1 hour or until hot and bubbling.  Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Oil Free Italian Dressing

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar, or to taste (or substitute your vinegar of choice)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp agave, honey, brown rice syrup or raw sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings (or to taste)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chia seeds

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 10 to 15 seconds on high speed.  From The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell.

Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can (15 oz/425 g)  or 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of ½ lemon or lime
  • Spice option 1: 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp each salt and onion powder, ¼ tsp cayenne
  • Spice option 2: 1 tsp each garlic powder, cumin, curry, paprika, ½ tsp salt
  • Spice option 3: ½  tsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp onion powder; 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, ½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Drain and rinse chickpeas and place on a baking sheet. Bake until almost dry throughout, about 30 minutes, shaking the pan and tasting every 10 minutes. Transfer chickpeas to a large bowl. Add lemon or lime juice and toss until coated. In a small bowl, mix spices. Add spices to chickpeas and toss until coated. Roast for another 10 minutes being sure the spices don’t start to burn. Turn off oven and leave chickpeas in the oven until cool. If chickpeas are still moist inside after they cool, reheat oven to 200F and roast until dry.  Store in sealed glass jar. If they get moist, place in low oven until dry.   Use as a nutritious snack or in place of croutons to top a salad.

Pineapple Whip

Pineapple Whip

  • 1 ripe pineapple (or purchased frozen pineapple)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp agave or honey
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • Toasted coconut for topping

Peel and core the pineapple. Chop and freeze on a cookie sheet overnight. Place can of coconut milk in fridge overnight. Open bottom of coconut milk can and pour off coconut water. (Reserve the coconut water for another use.) Place coconut milk solids, honey and ginger, if using, in a high powered blender. Blend until well combined. With blender running, slowly add frozen pineapple until mixture is thick and creamy, about the consistency of soft ice cream. . Transfer to a shallow container, cover and place in freezer to firm up for 2 to 4 hours.  Serve with toasted coconut on top. (If the whip freezes hard, let it rest in the fridge for ½ to 1 hour before serving.)

If your blender is not powerful enough to handle the frozen pineapple, thaw slightly before using and add a bit of pineapple juice to keep mixture moving.  Can also be made in a food processor.

Adapted from The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell

Pineapple Whip topped with Blueberries

 

 

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Baked Cauliflower Bites

March 9, 2017

Since discovering that chickpea flour makes a great ‘eggy’ batter I have been making these cauliflower bites often. Ken and I can easily polish off an entire large head of cauliflower in one sitting.  Coating the veggies in breadcrumbs and then baking produces a crisp crust without using any oil. These taste as good as any deep fried appetizer, but without any oil. And the same recipe will also work with other veggies, such as breaded eggplant or zucchini sticks. Use whatever spice mix your heart desires.

Chickpea flour can be found in the ethnic aisle of most grocery stores, with the East Indian staples. It is also referred to as Besan or Gram Flour. I also use it to make egg-less omelettes and French toast.

Baked Cauliflower Bites

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ½ cup unsweetened and unflavoured plant based milk (I use almond or cashew)
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dried whole grain bread crumbs (gluten free, if required)

Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix milk, flour and spices in a large bowl. Add cauliflower florets and toss until well coated.

 

Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl and roll each cauliflower floret in the bread crumbs to coat. 

 

Place florets on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

These are good just as they are, but try the dipping sauce below for a tasty treat.

 

Honey Garlic Dipping Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp honey (or substitute with Brown Rice Syrup for a vegan option)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 6 tbsp water mixed with 2 tsp corn starch (or arrowroot powder)

In a small saucepan, mix all ingredients until well combined.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and serve over the baked cauliflower florets or as a dipping sauce.

 

Baked Potato and Hummus

July 23, 2016

Baked potato and hummus

Baked potatoes are one of my favorite foods; unfortunately, they are usually served topped with loads of butter and sour cream. Since a baked potato and salad are our go to supper, I have been experimenting with various whole food plant based toppings. This white bean hummus is hands down my favorite hummus and my favorite baked potato topping as well. Its super creamy and you won’t miss the butter on your potato. Serve with a big green salad and you have a complete meal.

baked potato 2During the summer, I like to bake my potatoes (and sweet potatoes as well) in the slow cooker. No need to heat up the oven. It takes between 3 to 4 hours to cook on high, depending on your slow cooker.

ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet and Spicy White Bean Hummus

  • 1 ½ cups baked sweet potato pulp
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (or one can)
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1 ½ to 2 lemons
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ground sea salt, to taste
  • 1½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (start with less, season to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (or 1/8 tsp chipotle chili)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake a large sweet potato, or 2 small ones, until tender. You can bake it whole, or peel and cut in cubes and place in a covered baking dish. It will take 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size. Once done, peel off the skin if you baked them whole. (or you can bake it in a slow cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours)
  2. Places all of the other ingredients into a food processor except cayenne.
  3. Blend well, adding a small amount of water if needed for processing. Taste, add salt and cayenne to your taste (I like it with about 1 tsp cayenne)
  4. Serve with crackers, pita wedges or raw veggies or as a topping on a baked potato

Adapted from Cookie and Kate.

 

 

Body, Mind and Spirit Show and Spicy Sweet Potato Humus

April 20, 2015

Over the weekend I helped out at the Body Mind and Spirit Show as a volunteer for our local Sant Mat group, which had a table at the show. Sant Mat is an age-old, spiritual way of life that includes developing respect, trust and love for all and discovering our full potential as true human beings. It is a lifestyle in harmony with higher values that nurtures our soul through meditation – the regular contact with the inner light and sound. Sant Mat promotes a non-violent, ethical lifestyle, which includes a vegetarian diet.

To promote a vegetarian diet, we offered demonstrations and on how to prepare four simple, delicious and nutritious recipes and offered samples for taste testing. We were thrilled with the receptiveness of the participants and the feedback offered. Three of recipes offered, I have previously posted on this blog, Lentil and Kale Soup, Kale and Apple Salad and Granola Bars. The fourth dish, Overnight Oats, I will post in the next few days.

We also offered samples of a Spicy Sweet Potato Humus which was very popular; however, I had not printed out the recipe to hand out. So, as promised, the recipe is below. It is adapted from a favorite recipe blog of mine, Cookie and Kate. It is my current favorite humus and is quickly pulled together in a food processor. It is ideal for those who love the traditional chickpea humus but also for those not so fond of chickpeas.

Sweet Potato Humus

Spicy Sweet Potato Humus

1 ½ cups baked sweet potato pulp
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained)
3 tablespoons tahini
3 cloves garlic, peeled
juice of 1 ½ to 2 lemons
zest of ½ lemon
ground sea salt, to taste
1½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (start with less, season to taste)
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cumin

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake a large sweet potato, or 2 small ones, until tender. You can bake it whole, or peel and cut in cubes and place in a covered baking dish. It will take 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size. Once done, peel off the skin if you baked them whole.
2. Places all of the other ingredients into a food processor (if you’re sensitive to spice, you may want to save the spices for last and add them to taste.) Add water as needed to make it blend well.
3. Blend well, adding a small amount of water if needed for processing. Taste, add salt and adjust spices to your taste.
4. Serve with crackers, pita wedges or raw veggies.

I was asked about substituting peanut butter for the tahini (sesame seed butter). I think that would be an awesome combination – I love the combination of sweet potatoes and peanut butter in South African Peanut Soup (yes, I will post that recipe soon as promised). The next time I mix up a batch I will try it with peanut butter and update this post with the result. If you try it, be sure to let me know how you like it.

April 24 update – Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Hummus – I tried substituting peanut butter for the tahini and it is good, but I still prefer the tahini.

Tip for baking Sweet Potatoes – My sister passed on a neat tip for baking potatoes in a slow cooker. Just wash them and put them in the slow cooker on high for about 3 – 4 hours (depending on the size). They bake up nice and moist. I baked potatoes and sweet potatoes at the same time. This is an excellent tip for the summer when you don’t want the oven heating up the house.