Tag Archives: lunch

Portobello Sandwich with an Olive Chimichurri

I got some lovely “ancient grain” bread at the farmer’s market on Saturday and I had some portobellos so I knew I would have to make a sandwich. I have always had a strange relationship with sandwiches. When I was a kid I hated mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickles, relish, raw onion, sauerkraut, and horseradish so if I ever went to a restaurant my sandwiches were really plain. When I used to go to subway I would get a cold cut, tomato, and as many olives they could fit. One day, in the year 2001 I got into a fight with a sandwich “artist” who would only give me 6 slices of olives. She said the corporate policy was that extra olives cost 35 cents for each additional serving of 3 slices of olive. I explained that I wasn’t getting any of the other condiments so it seemed unfair. She refused to give in; maybe she didn’t have a soul or perhaps she was threatened by the company. Regardless, I left the restaurant in disgust and vowed never to return and to this day I refuse to purchase anything from Subway. Sometimes I can really identify with Grandpa Simpson.

I still don’t like most traditional American condiments but I love all sorts of other things including the great food love of my life: the olive. This sandwich was a roasted portobello marinated in wine, olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic, and garlic and then topped with arugula and roasted red peppers. I also made a cross between and chimichurri and a tapenade for the spread that was delicious! In a mortar and pestle I pounded out some garlic and then added parsley, basil, green olives, and tomato. Heavenly! The key with a sandwich like this is to toast the bread so it doesn’t get to soggy. I served the sandwiches with Potato Squashers. This picture also shows off my new salt and pepper shakers that I got at room service. So smurfy!

Southern Taco


This taco was a winner!

First I sauteed an onion and then added chopped garlic and chipotle powder. After everything was glistening I added some sliced mushrooms and cooked until they gave off their water and then added a can of black-eyed peas. In the meantime I baked some tater tots, toasted some pumpkin seeds, warmed up some tortillas, and chopped a tomato, cilantro, and some green onions. A nice quick taco that had everything I needed to be a happy smurf.

Bánh mì at LuLu B’s

Did you ever see that episode of the Simpson’s where Homer is at the company picnic and they have one of those 25 foot long sandwiches? Carl says “We hardly put a dent in that sandwich” and Homer says he will give it a proper home. Then as the weeks go by the sandwich starts to rot and eventually makes Homer really ill and he looks at the sandwich and says “this is all your fault…. I could never be mad at you!” and starts eating the rotten thing again? That is how I feel about the Lemongrass Tofu Bánh mì at LuLu B’s. It was so good and only 4 dollars, it doesn’t get any better than that. Sleepy Smurf wanted me to make sure that I added that the avocado boba tea is the best that she has had in town. And the picture is only half the sammy! I had to eat the other half as soon as I got back to work or I would have gone into a panic. So you are really looking at 2 dollars worth of sandwich. Wow.

This meal is brought to you by the planet Earth

Sunday morning was a race against time to get to Whole Foods before they stopped selling breakfast tacos. If you know me at all then you know that I love the Whole Foods taco. It takes vegan breakfast tacos to a whole new level with a wide range of choices and terrific tortillas. At my office it is common practice that if you are more than 15 minutes late you must stop at Whole Foods to get tacos. Anyway, on Sunday I was speeding there because although Dan and I have shared a multitude of breakfast tacos together he had never tried the Whole Foods version because we usually don’t venture downtown early enough on the weekend (and by early I mean before noon). At 11:35 I was just finishing up my yoga session when I looked at the clock and realized that I was going to have to book-it. Luckily, there was zero traffic on Sunday morning and I shot right up to 6th and Lamar only to be foiled by the seemingly thousands of people in the Whole Foods parking lot. It was total chaos! There was excited holiday shoppers mixed with large groups of tourists and organic moms with their organic babies in PVC-free strollers all slowly walking or rather ambling around seemingly with no particular goal. I finally made it to the counter and bought my tacos with seconds to spare and all was well with the world.

While I was at Whole Foods, I stopped in the bulk section to pick up some chocolate chips (damn you Isa and you fantastic cookies) and I checked to see if they had Puy Lentils which neither the co-op or the health food store by my house carry. Success! They did so I bought a bag and brought them home fueld with a desire to finally create one of the recipes that I had felt just out of grasp merely one day earlier. Of course, I didn’t have anything specific in mind so I started thumbing through the Voluptuous Vegan and came across a lentil recipe that claimed to be phenomenal. The technique is that you cook the lentils with a bouquet garni of fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary and when it is done you push half the lentils through a strainer to remove the hulls and fibrous materials. Then you saute that with some red pepper flakes and garlic and add it back to the other lentils. It was very flavorful but still missing an assertive component so I decided to roast some mushrooms in the oven with balsamic, soy sauce, and garlic. I made some pasta a covered it in the lentils and the mushrooms, a side of nice ass greens and a wonderful ridiculously healthy meal was created. I think the only other really earthy ingredient that I could have added would have been chestnuts… or truffle oil… or maybe some Bulgar instead of the pasta…

Lard Na (formally Larb Na)

*Note I originally posted this as Larb Na do to some confusion with different cookbooks. Thai girl was nice enough to finally put the matter to rest and tell me what was what.

Over the weekend we went to see Synecdoche, New York at a movie theater in far north Austin. Since we were already up there we also stopped at the giant Asian Grocery Store. They have a ton of vegan stuff, not to mention tons of different kinds of noodles, sauces, rice, produce, and random things. I could spend all day there but we were in a hurry to get to the (very good) movie so I was rushing around throwing canned fake duck and trying to find annetto seeds. It was an intense trip.

The next day I thought about making soup but I was really hungry so I made the old Thai standby, Lard Na. Like Pad See Eww this is a recipe that I can make with nearly any ingredients in about 10 minutes. It is a great recipe that works with any greens that you have on hand, even broccoli. Here is how I made it this time:

1 lbs Rice Noodles
3 TBSP peanut oil
1 lbs tofu, drained and pressed
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch of greens (I used Kale and cabbage it was great)
1 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP vegetarian fish sauce (or more soy sauce)
1 TBSP Nama Shoyu (or soy sauce)
1 TBSP miso (or Thai fermented soy bean paste if you have it)
1 TBSP cornstarch mixed with 1 cup of broth (or water)
pepper

First cook the noodles according to the package directions until soft but not over done. Rice Noodles are cooked different depending on how thick the noodle is. Often you can bring water to a boil, take it off the burner, and just soak the noodles until they are soft. The key is to drain them as soon as they are done or they will turn to mush. Make sure all of your ingrdiants are ready to go before you start stir-frying and have plates ready as well.

Start a wok or large saute pan on high heat with 1 TBSP of oil. Stir-fry the cooked noodles for a couple of minutes until they are golden. Be careful to toss the noodles and turn them rather than stirring because you don’t want to break them up. Spread the noodles among the dinner plates. Add the remaining 2 TBSP of oil and garlic and saute for a minute or less. Add the tofu and sear against the side of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the greens, the sugar, the fish sauce, the shoyu, and the miso and cook until the greens are just starting to wilt. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cover for about 30 seconds. Uncover and stir and cook a couple more minutes to let the gravy thicken if you desire. If you can’t wait then scoop it out, toss on top of the noodles, mix together and Enjoy!

Nice Ass Greens from the Farmer’s Market

Today I rode my bike to the farmer’s market and bought so many wonderful vegetables! I came home and made roasted portabello sandwiches with olive tapenade on flax sunflower bread.

I got Russian Kale, Mizuna, Arugula and some unknown Chinese green at  one stand that I had never seen. Every bunch was just 2 dollars so I said 8 dollars worth of greens please and felt silly. When I got home I roasted the bella’s while I cooked the nice ass greens. They were so frakking good that Dan said he would be happy only eating the greens! So I recommend trying some.

Nice Ass Greens

1 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch of Unknown Greens, chopped
1/4 cup of raisins
1 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
1 TBSP White Balsamic Vinegar

Caramelize the onions over low heat until browned, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. And the greens and raisins and toss until bright green. Add the nooch and vinegar to taste and Enjoy!

VeganMoFo- Uncheese

A few weeks ago I found a used copy of the uncheese cookbook at half price books. I was a little unsure about making my own vegan cheese but I had read some positive reviews so I thought I would try it out. The first thing that I made was the farmer’s chedda soup, it was mostly sweet potatoes and carrots as I recall so I thought it would be pretty good and I really enjoyed eating it. The soup was thick and filling while also being quite favorable. I was still not sure about the different cheese recipes but I kept looking them over and gradually got the extra stuff that I would need that I don’t normally have around (quick oats and pimento pieces) one of the main reasons that I thought I might not like these recipes is their reliance on nutritional yeast which I do like but not on everything all the time, mostly in tofu scramble.

So with great trepidation last night I starting putting ingredients into my blender that seemed totally unlikely to go together. It reminded me of “cooking” as a 5 year old, when you just mixed together a bunch of random stuff, added every spice in the rack and blended it all together and tried to get your mom to eat it. The mixture blended up very nicely and I poured it into a saucepan and heated it while it thickened. It looked very cheesy, very creamy and it was bright orange. I had made foccacia that was just coming out of the oven and I tested a corner in the cheeze mix. Oh my! It was so tasty! I ate a whole piece of bread standing over the pot! I spread it out on another piece of bread and put it under the broiler for a few minutes. It was divine. I can’t wait now to try some of the other cheeses!

VeganMoFo- A Vegan Day at the Office

Today I taught another workshop at my office on how to make healthy lunches to bring to work. It warms my heart to help people that are struggling with obesity, diabeties, and heart diesease by teaching them how to incorporate vegetables, grains, beans, and fruit into their diet. I have a whole presentation that compares a meat & cheese burger lunch with a bean taco lunch. The calories for the former is upwards of 1800 whereas the tacos clock in at around 400 calories. I also talk about how to cook different beans, grains, and vegetables and quickly make them into salads, sandwiches, soup, and casseroles. I also make some samples, the Black Bean, Mango & Quinoa Salad on endive leafs was a big winner

But the show stopper was a white bean hummus that is modified from Dreena Burton’s recipe. In the last workshop I gave one girl cleaned the bowl out with her finger and everyone asked for the recipe both times. The key, I think, is to use fresh herbs. It doesn’t even taste like hummus, it is more like ranch dressing.

Here is what I blended in the food processor

1 can of white beans

juice from 1/2 of a lemon

2 tbsp tahini

1 medium clove garlic, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp sea salt

ground pepper

1 tbsp water

1 tbsp of fresh thyme

1.5 tbsp fresh sage

it was great on pita chips but I think would be even better on a sandwich or a wrap.

VeganMoFo- Sweet Potato Quesadillas

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said “Rock out with your Guac out!” and I laughed because it reminded me of the wonderful dinner that I had last night.

I was starving when I got home and wanted to make dinner as quickly as possible. Luckily I had a sweet potato that was already baked in the fridge and some avocados that were sitting in the window and finally perfectly ripe.

I sauteed some sweet peppers, a jalapeno, and a lot of garlic on the stove while I made some guacamole to tide me over. Then I added black soy beans, chopped swiss chard and frozen corn and cooked for another 3 minutes. Then I added the mashed sweet potato, salt, pepper, and lime and I would have added cilantro and olives but I didn’t have any! That really shows how desperate my need is to go shopping.

Then I wiped out the pan, rubbed a tortialla with oil and put in a quarter of the mixture, shaped into a half moon and then fried while I formed the next one. They both fit into the pan and took just a couple minutes to get crispy on each side while I cleaned up the area. I can’t even explain how tasty these were. I liked them much better than the cheese ones that I used to make back in my college days. The whole process took about 15 minutes, used one pan, and was relatively healthy (Swiss Chard!) and super tasty. The leftovers were formed into a burrito and eaten cold by yours truly seconds ago for a very delectable lunch.

I assumed that “Quesadillas” meant something cheesy so I looked it up in Wikipedia. I found that

The word comes from Spanish, and literally means “little cheesy thing” (from queso, or “cheese”, + ada, an adjectival suffix, + illa, a diminutive suffix).

I looked up sweet potato thinking I could make a cool new Spanish vegan word and found it translates like this

sweet potato~ potato sustantivo
boniato m, batata f, camote m (Andes, Méx);

So I am at a loss for what to call it. Batatadilla? Pequeño Potato Sustantivo? If any of you speak any Spanish and have any ideas please post them!

Vegan MoFo: The Key to Lazy Home Cooking

I posted yesterday about El Taco Italiano and if you look at the recipe it looks like quite a bit of work for a lazy person. Making baked Seitan is not difficult but it does take some time. Probably less time then it would to go to the health food store and buy some seitan but time nonetheless that could be used doing really important things, like watching Project Runway.

For me, the best way to keep things cheap and easy is to batch cook items all at once and then use them for the rest of the week. For example, I often make a crock pot of black beans and then when I come home I make black bean burgers for that night, put a bunch of burgers in the freezer along with some beans (make sure you spread them out on a cookie tray for the first hour to let them freeze individually or else you are going to have a big block of frozen beans on hand), I keep other beans in the fridge to make soup the next day and Gallo Pinto for breakfast. I pack beans and rice and salsa into lunches and that is it for the week. For about 4 dollars I have food for many meals.

Cooking beans is an obvious example but I think that always cooking more than you need of certain things makes life really simple. Usually, what I eat today is inspired by what I made yesterday. So if one day I spend 2 hours making seitan I will have stuff for the rest of the week since I have a lot of seitan and I used the oven to multitask. While baking the Seitan I made two potatoes, a couple roasted garlic bulbs, roasted bell peppers, and I could have done even more. Making lunch the next day was easy because I had the cream and sausage left over and made a bagel

with the left overs at work (hence the bad pic) and then that night dinner could have been an already baked potato smeared with the sauce and seitan or I could have made some quinoa, thinned out the sauce and added some vegetables and seitan for a delicious dinner. The key is to then, is to make more quinoa then I need so that the next day I can think, well I have this quinoa, what should I make with it. Well, I have that roasted garlic from the other night…. It always helps to have a starting point and to have food prepared on hand so that I don’t go to Whole Foods or wherever else, and spend a bunch of money when usually the food I make at home is better anyway. And I don’t have to go anywhere.