Sunday, May 31, 2009

quick and easy

No, I'm not talking about that girl or guy you met at the bar last night.  I'm talking food here.  Summertime food.  Food that says, 'Hey, it's hot outside and you're hungry, but tired and sweaty...  come eat me.'  Because, if you're like me (but not, necessarily, like Michael, who remains relatively ambitious in the food department year-round), you get a little lazy when the temperature goes up and there are things to be done outside and the kitchen just loses its draw on you...a bit.

Hence, you shall now be submitted to some of our solutions to this problem.  Creative and tasty solutions, methinks.

First up is the ever popular summer salad.
not just your gramma's iceburg

This, my friends, is the Greek salad from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking (henceforth so named the idiot cookbook, because this is another one I hate typing out).  It's chock full of radtastic veggies to fill you up, but not weigh you down when you're ready to go out for a nice bike ride after dinner.  As a former Greek salad addict, I fully approve of this rendition, right down to the dressing.  Add some tofu feta from the same book, and you've got a winner:
my first tofu feta attempt

Here I will admit: feta cheese was the last thing I gave up when I made the transition from vegetarian to vegan.  I snubbed my nose at all tofu feta recipes this past year (because, in fact, this past week was my veganversary!).  However, when Michael brought up the idea this time around, I thought, 'What the hell, lets give it a go'.  Ok, so it didn't taste like feta.  But it was tasty!  I have a feeling that if we'd cut it into smaller cubes and let it marinate for a day rather than half an hour, it would be even better.  In fact, I used some of the leftovers to make a weird breakfast one morning, and it was pretty awesome.

This next meal was made forever ago, but it's also a nice quick staple, and a bit heartier (but not too much) than a salad.
easy peasy baked tofu

Originally, I got this idea from The Accidental Vegan cookbook, but their recipe was so salty it made me gag.  Still, I liked the simplicity of the recipe, and decided to adapt it to better suit my needs.  Basically, just cut some extra firm tofu really thin, mix together tahini with whatever else is around (my usuals: nutritional yeast, a little soy sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder, etc), dip tofu in, put on a baking sheet, and bake it at 350F for about 30 minutes.  It gets this nice brown crust on it, and it's nice and chewy.  Plus, you don't have to press and marinate your tofu.  Plus, it's really versatile to whatever spices you have on hand or want to incorporate to a side dish you have a craving for that night.  

Oooooh, I'm excited about this one: 
fabulously easy tempeh and roasted veggies

Ok, so roasting veggies may not be something you feel like doing when it's hot out and your kitchen gets to be about 5 million degrees...  But you have to admit it's easy.  And you don't have to be in the kitchen the whole time they're roasting.  Go out and drink some lemonade on your porch or water your plants or play with your cat.  Then, just hop on into the kitchen when the buzzer goes off, fill your plate, and get the hell outta there.  See?  Not so bad.  So the roasted veggies here were super good, especially with that gravy Michael mixed up.  But what I'm really excited about is the tempeh.  Michael's mom brought us some wild rice tempeh the last time she came in from Evansville, and we've been trying to figure out how to use it so that the flavors shine through, but still doesn't taste like plain old tempeh.  The solution came, oddly enough (ha) with the recipe on the package.  That I didn't use, but did base my own recipe from it.  It's so excitingly yummy and easy, I'm even going to share it in its entirety with you.

Dill Macadamia Crusted Tempeh

1 package of tempeh (prefferably wild rice, but any will do)
1.5 ounces macadamia nuts (about an 1/8 cup, chopped)
1 heaping tsp dried dill
1 scallion, white and green parts, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs water
spray oil for the baking sheet

First up, cut and simmer your tempeh.  We cut ours so that we get 14 pieces out of it...  So 7 pieces (that's six cuts you'll make) widthwise, and then cut each of those in half, lengthwise, so they're pretty darned thin.  Toss it in some boiling water, reduce heat, and cover for 12 minutes, then drain.  While all that's going on, preheat your oven to 350F and make the macadamia crust.  For that, place the nuts in your food processor or good blender and process until they are super fine crumbs.  They'll look oily and kinda clumpy, that's good.  Place them in a small bowl and add the rest of the ingredients (except for the spray oil, obviously).  Mix it all should be like a paste.  Spray a baking sheet with the oil and arrange your tempeh in one layer.  Spoon an equal amount of the paste onto each slice and spread it out so that it's completely covering the top.  Put in the oven for 15 minutes, and it's done!  

It's so good.  The dill adds a nice summery flavor and it's just salty enough.  I suppose if you wanted to coat the whole pieces of tempeh, just double the recipe.  But there's enough flavor in just the top coating, that it's really not necessary.

Lastly today, is this lovely chickpea stew from some Turkish cookbook that I got at Borders about a million years ago: 
simple, nutritious, and delicious

Ok, well, it turned into a chickpea and white bean stew because we only had one can of chickpeas on hand, but it was still super fabulous.  It's mainly 2 red onions sauteed in oil and margarine with cumin and coriander and fennel seeds and paprika (except we didn't have enough red onion, so we added a bunch of scallions in a later step), add a can of drained diced tomatoes and a teeny bit of sugar, add the chickpeas (and scallions, if you're us) and some cashews (not in the recipe, but a nice addition), and a whole bunch (the literal sense here) of chopped parsley.  Garnish with lemon wedges and salt to taste.  The lemon makes this meal.  You really need that burst of acid to bring out the flavors in the spices.  You could serve this over rice, but we were lazy and just ate bowls of it, as is.  It all came together in about 20 minutes.  I know that's not really a recipe, but I don't remember exact measurements.  Just add spices to taste and whatnot, if you'd like to try it out.  Oh, it also called for whole spices, but we didn't have cumin or coriander seeds, so we just used the ground versions of both, and it turned out fine!

I have more to catch up on (like commenting on all your lovely blogs, I know, I know!), but it's noon and I'm getting hungry now...  Time for a quick and easy meal! 


Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

Mmmm... I wish I had that salad. It's bursting with color!

Anonymous said...

Your posts are always full of amazing food!!!

I love roasted veggies. I even had the nerve to make them in the arizona! haha

The tempeh sounds great, I'll have to pick some of the rice kind up.

Ricki said...

So many great ideas here! I've got to try that tempeh.

veggievixen said...

i have never tried a faux-feta recipe but i really want to. it's cool that all you have to do is marinate some tofu for that dish...

and the tempeh is amazing!! i am all for quick & easy meals that are also satisfying and delicious.

Anonymous said...

wow chickpea stew sounds fantastic right about now. it's still not super cold where I am right now so it would be perfect for dinner tonight with a nice crusty bread:)

miss v said...

i always loved greek salads too, and i don't mind the vegan feta. i thought it would be hard to give up, but i really don't miss it that much.

Marni said...

I love baked tofu, too! There's so many different ways to do it and the texture is fabu.

That chickpea stew looks like a bowl of heaven.

Zoey said...

Your salads look delicious! I need to start eating more salads now that it is getting hot but I am always making the same boring things. Thank you for the new ideas.

Tara said...

Everything looks so delicious! I have been skeptical about vegan feta as well, but given your recommendation I'll have to try to make some!

jessy said...

oh-so true on the summer be'n all about some quick 'n easy mealz! that's what dan & i are all about 'cause we too would rather be outside playing! wheeeeeee! happy veganversary to you, Jessica! superhappyface! that rocks! the greek salad looks so gloriously awesome - we've never tried the tofu feta before, and i'll admit - i've been hesitant, but i think i need to give it a go! baked tofus = hell yes, easy peasy dill macadamia crusted tempeh = the best (totally printed off your recipe - thank you!), and chickpea stew = damn delicious! hooray for summer fun times and all the tasty eats that rock!

pixiepine said...

I think this post may inspire me to try my first fake feta too! That Greek salad looks so good!

Anonymous said...

Quick and easy indeed! It's hotter than I can handle in Portland (creeping nearly into the 90's already- jeesh!) and your meal ideas will help fill my belly without too much effort. I roasted some veggies last night and I agree, it's easy and tolerable if you don't hang out in the kitchen while the oven is working its magic!

Sal said...

happy veganniversary!!

i am not feeling much like cooking at the moment either cuz it's so hot so i'm liking a nice salad. i used to love feta cheese too - the tofu version i've made before is not the same but it fills a gap!

Jes said...

I'm still not sure I can succumb to the vegan feta craze (feta was just too sacred to me back in the day) but your good review might push me a little closer to it!

Anonymous said...

the easy peasy baked tofu, the tempeh and roasted veggies, and the chickpea stew are practically making my mouth water! especially the chickpea stew. that bowl is looking seriously delicious. i love garbanzo beans, so i think i have to make that asap! by the way, your pictures are very professional looking! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm always so happy to see you posting again! I miss you're sense of humor - and all these yummies! I really think we need to work out some sort of living arrangement so we can share all this delicious food!

VeganCowGirl said...

Truly an awesome post! I am totally impressed with you dill tempeh! I am all about the dill this spring! Will have to go down and get some tempeh tomorrow and give that a try - but maybe with a different nut. I am also really digging the chickpea and white bean salad. Think I might add some wild rice to that and make it for din din tomorrow! Thanks for the inspiration.

Jenna said...

I lovvvvvve dill! I want to try that tempeh.

Eric said...

That chickpea stew looks really good!

Anonymous said...

Baked tofu = part of dinner tonight!

aTxVegn said...

Everything sounds just delicious! I love fresh dill on everything these days.

Jeni Treehugger said...

Oooh I LOVE Feta and have only tried one recipe before and that was a complete fail. I've never heard of that recipe book(The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking)but it's one I sure like the sound of.
Happy Veganversary!!

Erin said...

I was big into feta when I was vegetarian too, and haven't tried any substitution. Although I certainly want to try.