Sunday, October 11, 2015

Seitan with Kale and Pumpkin Salsa (waterless), served with Cauliflower Short-Grained Brown Rice (No Added Fat)

We don't often eat short-grained brown rice, but recently had it several times and enjoyed it. I thought I'd cook some short-grained brown rice with cauliflower; the long cook time for rice would soften and somewhat homogenize the cauliflower, I figured. Short-grained brown rice cooks in a 1 : 2 ratio of rice to water over 50m stovetop, but in a pressure cooker it cooks in a 1 : 1.25 ratio for only 22-28 minutes. I thought I'd try about 23m.

I had some Frontera brand chipotle pumpkin salsa (with a modest fat content of half a gram per 2 T) and thought I'd make a waterless seitan and greens dish. This is what I did:

  • 1 cup short-grained brown rice
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup cauliflower chopped to 1/2" cubes
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 t salt
  • Medium shallot cut into 1/4" thick half moons (about a half cup)
  • 8 ounces seitan (I bought strips but if chunks, first slice into approximately 3/8" x 1 1/2" slices)
  • 1 compressed cup kale leaves (not stems), roughly hand cut into approximately 1/2" squares
  • 6T (3/8 of a cup) salsa
  1. I put the rice, water, cauliflower, bouillon cube, and salt in the Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked for 23m.
  2. In the meantime, I put in my small Saladmaster stock pot, in this order, the shallot, seitan, and kale.
  3. I covered the pot and cooked on medium heat for a few minutes until the vapor release began to jiggle, then I reduced the heat to low and cooked for 20m or so.
  4. I let the pressure cooker cool a bit for a few minutes, then slowly let the pressure out.
  5. I turned the heat to the pot off and removed the lid; I served my daughter then added the salsa to my wife and my portions (I call this dish no added fat as each serving just had 3/4 g of fat from this particular salsa), and served.
  6. I fluffed up the rice dish and served, along with tomato and hemp seeds.


Dinner was good! It's nice that rice can be made so quickly in the pressure cooker. The rice was done but I wonder if it would have been a little softer if it had more water. The combination of the rice and cauliflower was quite good - the cauliflower was soft and creamy. The seitan was predictably good and the nuance of pumpkin was welcome.

Ideas for the future

I should try the short-grained rice again in the pressure cooker. Perhaps adding not just a little more water but also a little more time may be helpful - perhaps 1 1/2 parts water per part rice, cooked for 25m?

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Seitan with Roasted Yellow Pepper, Green Beans, and Broccoli Rabe, along with Jade Pearl Rice and Fresh Tomato Slices

Our local coop has had for about a week now an organic, tasty sweet, juicy, and somewhat tart apple, the heirloom Orleans Reinette, which I don't remember seeing before. They're so good - I picked up a half dozen today after trying them a few days ago. For dinner tonight, I had limited time, and put together a simple but tasty seitan dish. I cooked waterlessly in a large Saladmaster stock pan an 8 ounce package of seitan, and frozen green beans and broccoli rabe (maybe 3/4 cup of each) over low heat, covered, for about 15m. I roasted a bell pepper and mixed the pepper in before serving. Dinner was good!

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Black Beans with Purple Potatoes (No Added Fat)

On the fiftieth anniversary of its film release, we enjoyed seeing The Sound of Music outdoors last night. We stopped at a favorite South Indian restaurant and picked up food, including steamed rice-lentil idlis, spicy sambar soup, two kinds of rice, and more. There was a little rice left, which I served with tonight's dinner. They do use some oil in the restaurant, but the amount of rice was small and just a side, so I'm still describing this meal as one with no added fat. I wanted to make a black bean dish, and used purple potatoes from the local farmers' market along with the beans. This is what I did:

  • 1 cup of black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight or, as I did, rinsed and soaked in boiling water for a few hours (I put boiling water in and about 5 hours rinsed the beans again)
  • Enough water to cover beans plus another 1/2"
  • 2 cups potato (I used purple, but blue, red, or Yukon Gold varieties would be fine) cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 1/2" length slices (about a cup)
  • 1 cup broccoli stalk cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Vegan (salt-free) bouillon cube
  • Half medium onion cut into small 1/4" cubes (about a cup)
  • 3 cups spinach - frozen chopped (which is what I used - about 8 ounces) or fresh baby or fresh regular
  • 1 t ginger, finely (1/8") diced
  • 1T fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • Salt to taste (try 1/4 t)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste (try 1/8t)
  • (Optional) 2T nutritional yeast
  1. I put the beans, water, potato, carrot, broccoli stalk, and bouillon cube in the Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 20 minutes. (I had forgotten the ginger, which I added at the end, but it would have been good to cook with the beans.) I wanted to be sure that I had enough water, so I added a little more to make it 1/2" above the new level with everything and not just the beans.
  2. I waited a few minutes then slowly let out remaining pressure.
  3. I added the remaining ingredients - onion, spinach, ginger, lime juice, salt, black pepper, and nutritional yeast.
  4. The dish was more liquidy than I wanted it to be, so I decanted about 1 1/4 cups of the broth, which my wife enjoyed drinking, then served the bean dish along with reheated leftover rice and avocado slices.


The beans were good. I didn't think it was memorable, but certainly was a good, healthful, and solid main course.

Ideas for the future

I should stick with cooking with enough water to just cover the beans plus 1/2" or maybe 1/4" next time I prepare black beans. A little more ginger would be nice and, added at the end, a little cumin would add a nice taste.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Flageolet Beans with Greens and Butternut Squash, Madagascar Pink Rice, Heirloom Tomato Slices (No Added Fat)

I made a flageolet bean with vegetables as part of some dishes that I delivered today to a client, and reserved enough for our dinner. I used a recipe from a few months ago (May 2015) that I came up with as my base. Like in May, I soaked, rinsed, and cooked in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked with enough water to just cover, not for 26m as before, but for 24m. I think that I can get by with cooking beans for less time than I normally do and am trying to fine tune this (there is no problem with longer cooking as the beans become more digestible, but why take the time and energy if not necessary?).

After I let the pressure come down and could open the pot, I added fresh kale, and frozen mustard greens, broccoli rabe, collard greens, and butternut squash cubes, and cooked for an additional 2 minutes. I added raw onion, salt, turmeric, and ground cumin seed, as well as a little lime juice, and served.

I made some Madagascar Pink rice and tried soaking the rice for a few hours before cooking (I've heard this softens the rice and possibly increases the bioavailability of the nutrients), discarding the soak water, and cooking as normal. I found some excellent organic heirloom tomatoes in the market a few days ago, and (after doing some still life photography yesterday) cut one up and served it with some fleur de sel salt.

Dinner was very good! The beans, greens, and squash all went very well together. The squash was - well, squashed and smooth. I wonder how the mouth feel would be different if the frozen squash were cooked maybe for a minute under pressure to hopefully retain the cubes; in any case, the creaminess complimented the beans. I think that the beans could have been ready in even a few minutes less time, but no complaints about the softness of the dish.

The rice was softer than usual. I actually like a little more bit to rice, but don't mind exploring soaking more. The tomato was awesome!


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Friday, August 21, 2015

Waterless Seitan with Kale, Carrot, and Celery, served w Whole Wheat Pasta

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Waterless Kale and Vegan Sausage, Blistered Padrón Peppers, Whole Wheat Orzo with Peas and Sungold Tomato

My daughter and I were planning on collaborating on a waterless seitan and greens dish. We visited our local farmer's market today and picked up kale, but also bought an interesting sounding padrón pepper. The organic farmer said that the pepper tasted okay but not exceptional raw, but was great cooked. I found a nice and simple recipe online. I thought I'd blister these peppers as per this recipe, but not use olive oil.

As we began to cook, I found that the package of seitan that I had was spoiled, though the expiration date hadn't passed. I'll have to exchange this unopened package. What to do - I wanted to otherwise include something like beans (but I was already cooking and didn't have beans ready - of course, I could have beans ready fairly quickly with my pressure cooker), tofu (but my wife doesn't eat tofu), or possibly tempeh (but my daughter doesn't like tempeh, though she sometimes enjoys smoked tempeh, which my wife doesn't love).

Tasty Field Roast brand vegan sausages could work, and I happened to have some in stock. However, the variety I had was spicy Mexican chipotle, which would be way too spicy for my daughter. I do enjoy these vegan sausages, but don't eat them as much as I used to, as I am for no added fat dinners, and these sausages weigh in at 12g of fat per link. I ended up using one link and cooked carefully so that when I served, I could avoid the sausage and any of its spice in my daughter's serving.

I had wanted to make a waterless meal by putting half moon slivers of onion, and then the sausage, and finally the kale into my large 3 quart Saladmaster stock pan. I saw nice onions at the farmer's market, but mistakenly thought we had plenty at home - we had none. Instead of using onion, then, I used garlic. It was fun talking with my daughter about improvising when cooking. Here is what I did.

  • 2 large cloves garlic cut into thin 1/8" or smaller slices
  • 1 link vegan Field Roast sausage cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/2" slices
  • About a dozen rinsed kale leaves, stems composted, and leaves roughly hand cut into approximately 1" squares (the kale, gently pressed down, filled my 3 quart Saladmaster stock pan)
  • 1/8 t salt
  • About a dozen cherry or grape tomatoes (I used yummy sungold tomatoes)
  1. I put into my Saladmaster stock pan the garlic, followed by the sausage, and finally followed by the kale.
  2. I sprinkled the salt atop the kale, covered the pot, and brought it to medium high heat.
  3. After a few minutes, the steam started jiggling the vapor release. At that point, I reduced the heat to low until the jiggling went away and continued to cook for about 15m.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I opened the pot and added the tomato, and let it sit for a minute to warm a bit.
  5. I served the kale leaves only to my daughter, then served the whole combination to my wife and myself.
I also made some whole wheat orzo cooked with a vegan bouillon cube. When the orzo was done, I drained it and added chopped fresh pea pods, as well as chopped fresh basil and oregano, plus some salt.

I prepared the padrón peppers by warming a cast iron pan and putting the peppers into the pan. I didn't rinse the peppers; any germs would be killed by the heat. I cooked the peppers on medium heat; after a few minutes they started jumping, and I used tongs to turn them. As per the recipe that I found, I cooked until the peppers were well blistered and just getting a bit limp, then put in a bowl, sprinkled some coarse fleur de sel (salt) atop, and served. I coudn't resist trying a few before dinner, just grasping the stems and eating the pepper whole - wow, it really was tasty! There is a warning that most of these peppers are mild, but my wife did get one that was hot.


We all enjoyed dinner. The sausage was spicy but added nice flavor. I loved the peppers!

Ideas for the future

I want to pick up more of these peppers as I find them. I wonder if I can come up with other simple things to add, such as possibly chopped olive.

As good as the meal was, I wasn't happy with the plate's appearance. It needs more colors, perhaps some bright red tomato slices or yellow squash.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Black Bean Stew with Marinara and Napa Cabbage, Brown Jasmine Rice with Roasted Corn and Fresh Zucchini (No Added Fat)

I'm delighted that my wife and daughter are back from a vacation of a little over a week. I decided to make a black bean dish, and it came out great!

I had been having problems pressure cooking black beans which, soaked, are only supposed to take 10-15m to cook under pressure. Even at 30m of cooking and overnight soaking, the beans were always a bit hard. I usually would cook a few more minutes, but that didn't make a difference.

A few days ago, I realized the rather obvious issue - I wasn't using enough water. This became clear as I was referencing some websites and books about pressure cooking. I've read that soaked black beans can be cooked in as little as 10-15 minutes. Some recommendations are to use 2/3 of a cup of water per cup of dried beans, 3/4 a cup of water per cup of dried beans, enough water to cover the beans and then another inch, and more. I decided to try 20m with about 1/2" inch water above the level of the beans, and then do an additional low pressure 2m cook with tomato sauce. Here is what I did:

  • 1 cup of black beans
  • Enough water to cover beans plus another 1/2"
  • Medium bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes (about a cup)
  • Cup of marinara sauce
  • Half medium onion cut into 3/8" cubes (about a cup)
  • Salt to taste (try 1/4 t)
  • Dried oregano to taste (try 1/8 t)
  • (Optional) 2t nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup Napa cabbage, cut into 1/4"x1" strips
  1. I put the beans and water in the Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 20 minutes.
  2. I waited a few minutes then slowly let out remaining pressure.
  3. The beans were indeed cooked though they weren't very soft. I drained about a half cup of the liquid - my wife said she would drink it with dinner.
  4. I added the bell pepper and marinara sauce, then cooked on low pressure for 2 more minutes.
  5. I opened the pot as before, after waiting a few minutes.
  6. I added onion, salt, oregano, nutritional yeast, and cabbage, and served.
I also heated some leftover rice that I had made for a client - it was brown Jasmine with roasted corn kernels and raw zucchini. Tasty green peas completed the meal.


The beans were excellent! My daughter finished her large serving, and my wife and I had seconds (I had thirds, too!). I served some jalapeno pieces and garlic salt with my wife and my servings. I am so happy that I now can make very nice black beans.

Ideas for the future

Were I not cooking for my daughter, I'd add a bit of ginger and garlic at the beginning, and perhaps jalapeno in the short second 2m cooking.

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