Sunday, December 16, 2012

Crispy Potato Latkes with Chunky Applesauce

In light of Hannukah (get it?), we made latkes last week!  I'd never made homemade latkes before so I was a bit worried about how they would turn out (egg is usually used as a binder to hold each latke together), but happily ours came out and held together well.  Just remember to pat each one with a paper towel to remove excess oil... 

A trio of piping hot latkes topped with applesauce.

I recommend making the applesauce first so it can cool a bit while you make the latkes. 

Chunky Applesauce
  •  1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 5 large Fuji apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

First, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apples, stir, and sauté for two minutes.  Add the cinnamon and cloves; cover and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Allow the apples to cook for about 15 minutes (until they are tender).  Then, uncover the skillet and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the applesauce has thickened.  Stir in the sugar and cook for two more minutes.  Finally, remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and cool.

Crispy Potato Latkes
  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsely
  • 1 egg equivalent (we used Ener-G Egg Replacer powder)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, plus more as needed, for frying

First, grate the potatoes and onion using the grating attachment of a food processor (or a regular hand-grater).  Alternate between the onion and potato while grating.  Transfer the grated ingredients to a colander.

One handful at a time, remove the grated ingredients from the colander, squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible, and place the mixture in a large bowl.  Then stir in the parsley, egg equivalent, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat in order to fry the latkes.  To form each latke, use a large slotted spoon to compress potato mixture into a pancake.  Then carefully place the latke into the pan and flatten using the spoon.  Fry the latkes for 4 minutes on each side (use two spoons/spatulas to turn them over to avoid oil splatter), or until very crisp on the outside.  Set the cooked latkes on a paper towel-covered plate while cooking the rest.  

Serve hot with applesauce.  Yields 18 latkes. 


This recipe was a success.  The latkes were crisp on the outside, cooked on the inside, and nicely flavored.  I loved the homemade applesauce on top of the latkes: it adds a nice contrast in texture and temperature to the dish.  I wouldn't change anything about this recipe!
The ingredients in this dish are not difficult to come by.  Just be prepared to go through a lot of oil while frying. 
 Ease of Preparation:      
This is a pretty labor-intensive dish to prepare, though using a food processor to grate the onions and potatoes is certainly a time- and energy-saver.  Be sure to be cautious and delicate when dealing with the latkes in hot oil! 
Non-vegan friendliness:           
Simon, our resident latke expert, says that these taste as good as traditional non-vegan latkes, but they may not have held together quite as well.  Also, just as a note, Simon and Rachel ate some of their latkes with sour cream.

Monday, December 3, 2012

San Francisco: A Vegan's Best Friend

Greetings from San Francisco!  Simon and I are on a trip to California--a place I've been only once before for a conference, so this is effectively my first time here. 

I'm happy to report that San Francisco is one of the most vegan-friendly places I've ever been.  So far, I've had vegan ice cream and a vegan sausage (see below), both at omnivore-centric restaurants. 

Chipotle Vegan Sausage with Hot Peppers and Grilled Onions from Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Plus, there are friendly dogs everywhere.  So far, so good! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Whip

I've been looking forward to trying out this recipe for banana-based "ice cream" for some time now.  (Click here for the recipe, which I followed as written.)  It contains just two ingredients: bananas and peanut butter.  It turns out that bananas have some pretty amazing properties when frozen--properties that are perfect for creating naturally-sweet frozen treats! 

A bowl of whip.
Unfortunately, this banana whip did not live up to my expectations in a couple ways.  First, the peanut butter flavor was definitely overpowered by the banana flavor.  The banana flavor is nice, but it's not what the recipe promises.  Second, I thought the texture of the whip was a bit gummy, or almost too thick.  If I make this dish again, I might blend in a tiny bit of soymilk to make it a bit lighter. 
It's hard to beat a recipe with just two ingredients--especially when one of the ingredients is old fruit and the other is a pantry staple! 
 Ease of Preparation:      
This recipe requires a bit of advanced preparation and takes a while to make, although most of that time is inactive.  Before making the banana whip, which simply requires food processing (or blending), you need to freeze the bananas for an hour or two. 
Non-vegan friendliness:           
The original recipe authors call this dish "ice cream," but I'm calling it a "banana whip."  As a frozen banana treat, it's decent; but, as a vegan version of ice cream, it doesn't make the cut. 

Despite my mediocre review of this recipe, I might give it another shot.  I'm curious to see if I can find a way to incorporate some chocolate into the whip.  Chocolate makes everything better. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lentil Soup with Plantains

Now that I've recovered from my Thanksgiving-induced food coma, it's time to get cooking again.  Tonight I tried a new recipe for Lentil Soup with Plantains.  Plantains--the starchier relative of the banana--are delicious when prepared on their own (in fact, I had some fried plantains over the weekend at a Cuban restaurant in Jersey City), so combining them with lentils, another great staple food, seemed like a good idea.

A bowl of thick, hearty soup.
Note: Plantains can be used at any stage of ripeness, but this recipe is best made with plantains whose peels are turning black.

Lentil Soup with Plantains

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 5/8 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1.5 cups lentils
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
First, in a large soup pot, bring half of the garlic and all of the cinnamon, cloves, thyme, and vegetable broth to a boil.  Stir in the lentils and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the plantains, carrots, and salt.  Continue sautéing for 10 minutes, or until the plantains are golden.  Then stir in the remaining garlic and the allspice; cook for three more minutes. 
Add the plantain mixture to the lentil pot and simmer for 15 minutes.  Finally, stir in half of the cilantro and remove from heat.
Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve hot.  Yields 4-5 servings. 

The flavors in this soup are both deep and complex.  The lentils, carrots, and onions create a nice, savory base; then, the spices come together with the plantains' subtle sweetness to add a little something extra. And finally, to top it all off, the cilantro adds some welcome freshness.  Rachel noted that the soup's texture was a little off (it had absorbed most of the liquid by the time she ate it).
Plantains grow all year long in tropical places, so it should be easy to find them in the produce section of the grocery store (welcome to the 21st century).  If you have trouble finding fresh cilantro, you can leave it out or add another herb. 
 Ease of Preparation:      
I wrote the recipe above to involve a lot of (time-saving) multitasking.  If you'd rather take it slow, you could start cooking the onions and plantains first; then, begin to cook the lentils, and finally, combine them together. 
Non-vegan friendliness:           
This is a really hearty, filling, and interesting dish.  I'd be confident serving it to anyone. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blogging: 1 year and 10,000 page views later

Yesterday was Dinner is Vegan's first birthday, and sometime last night the blog passed the 10,000 page views mark.  I'd say that's pretty good timing!     

I've certainly enjoyed blogging for the past year.  It's been nice to have an ongoing project to challenge me and occupy my new-found, post-graduation free time.  I've enjoyed sharing the great (and not so great) recipes I've made with the vegan and non-vegan world.  And it's kind of cool to to have a record of the vast majority of the recipes I've made over the past year.

At the same time, I'm planning to rethink Dinner is Vegan a bit.  We all know that cooking can take up a considerable amount of time on its own, and it turns out that the blogging process takes up a significant amount of time as well.  As my time commitments grow elsewhere and as I start a new, more time- and energy-consuming job in the near future, I'm planning to cut down a bit on the frequency of my blog posts.  Whether that means posting one recipe per week or simply blogging about only the greatest recipes we make, I still do plan to blog.  But, I want blogging to be something I enjoy doing--not something that's stressful and burdensome.

I hope you stick with the blog as it enters year two!  Thanks for reading.    

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quinoa and Black Bean Sloppy Joes

I love to make TVP Sloppy Joes.  There's something about eating one that brings me back to my childhood (more like Mary Kate and/or Ashley Olsen's childhood: It Takes Two, anyone?). 

We tried out Quinoa and Black Bean Sloppy Joes a few nights ago, and they were just as sloppy as any ground beef-based equivalent.  Actually, I had intended for them to be burgers, not Joes; but, the addition of a bit too much water put us on a new path. 

An extra-sloppy sloppy Joe.
Quinoa and Black Bean Sloppy Joes
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 - 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons steak seasoning
  • 6 buns

First, place the quinoa, salt, and 1.5 cups water in a small saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all of the water is absorbed.  
 Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for five or six minutes (the oil left on the tomatoes should be sufficient, but add more oil if they stick to the pan).  Then stir in half of the black beans, plus the garlic, steak seasoning, and 1.5 cups water.  Allow the mixture to simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated. 

Next, using a food processor, blend the cooked bean mixture and half of the cooked quinoa until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining quinoa and black beans.*  Then place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow to cool while preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.    

Once the oven is heated and the mixture is mostly cool, it's time to bake the the Joes.  Generously coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and use a 1/2-cup measuring cup to drop six, evenly spaced Joes on the baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes, or until patties are crisp on top.

Serve on buns.  Yields 6 sloppy Joes. 

Once I came to think of these as Joes rather than burgers, I was satisfied with the results.  They have a sloppy, yet firm consistency and a fairly smooth texture.  The sun-dried tomatoes add a bit of depth to the flavor, while the steak seasoning adds a bit of spiciness.  Simon gives them his seal of approval, saying, "They're good." 
As I've mentioned before, quinoa is easier than you might think to find.  If you don't have steak seasoning (as is the case for many vegans, I'm sure), you can always make your own using a recipe like this one.
  Ease of Preparation:      
* I went through the process of baking the sloppy Joes with the original aim of making burgers.  Given that this recipe is now for sloppy Joes, I think you could skip the baking stage and still end up with an equally tasty (although perhaps less firm) sloppy Joe.  It's your call.    
Non-vegan friendliness:           
These aren't your average Joes, so to speak: their taste and mouthfeel are quite different than hamburger-based sloppy Joes.  That said, we all enjoyed them as a veganized version of the dish. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Warm German Potato Salad

Warm potato salad might seem like an odd concept if you're used to cold, mayo-based potato salad.  While I certainly ate my share of the latter before I was vegan, I will always have a special place in my stomach for Warm German Potato Salad--something I grew up eating with the Pennsylvania German (Dutch) side of my family.  The traditional version of this dish is made with bacon, while a vinegar base stands in for mayo by design.  

A pan of warm potato salad.

Here's a recipe for a vegan version of this tasty side dish.  

Warm German Potato Salad
  • 4 large potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 5 slices mock bacon strips
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard
  • 1 small bunch scallions, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, place the potatoes in a saucepan or pot and add just enough water to cover them.  Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until tender (around 15 minutes, depending on how big your cubes are).  Drain the potatoes, cover, and set aside.  

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the bacon strips until crispy (follow the package instructions).  Then chop or crumble the bacon into small pieces and set aside. 

Next, with the heat on medium, whisk the sugar, flour, water, vinegar, and mustard into the oil in the skillet. Continue whisking for another minute or so until the sauce thickens.  Add the potatoes, bacon, and scallions to the pan and stir to coat the potatoes well.  Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

German potato salad has a deliciously sweet, tangy, mustard-y flavor.  Unfortunately, ours ended up a bit under-dressed (I attribute this to the fact that our potatoes were pretty giant), meaning the flavors were a bit too subtle.  I adjusted the recipe above to allow for a bit more vinegar dressing on the potato salad, but feel free to add more if needed.  I also think the potato salad tasted better when served immediately rather than when reheated as leftovers.     
You probably have many of these ingredients in your pantry or fridge already.  Our usual grocery store carries vegan bacon strips, but I imagine it might be more difficult to find in some other locations. 
  Ease of Preparation:     
This is a pretty straightforward recipe, and you can definitely multitask while the potatoes are boiling in order to save time.
Non-vegan friendliness:           
Since German potato salad is usually vinegar-based, anyway, there isn't much occasion for comparison between this dish and its non-vegan version--except for the vegan bacon.  The mock bacon's bold, bacony flavor adds to the dish, although the texture is a bit off.  I'm not sure I'd eat a slice of mock bacon for breakfast, but it gets the job done as part of the potato salad. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sesame Noodles with Shredded Cabbage

The other night we made Sesame Noodles with Shredded Cabbage for dinner.  I selected this Asian-inspired pasta dish mostly as a vehicle for eating cabbage (cabbage is so good!), and it ended up having a pleasantly light, fresh taste.   I will say that it tasted much better when served immediately compared to when served as leftovers, so you may want to keep that in mind.  

Grain + Vegetables.
Sesame Noodles with Shredded Cabbage

  • 20 ounces spaghetti 
  • 1 pound cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

First, prepare the spaghetti according to package instructions.  Before draining the pasta, place the cabbage and carrots in the (large) colander you will use.

Meanwhile, whisk together the peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, wine, vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan while heating over medium-low heat.  Mix until the sauce becomes smooth and then allow to simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are ready.

When the spaghetti is ready, drain the noodles over the cabbage and carrots.  This will wilt the cabbage.  Then transfer everything back into the pot, add the sauce and cilantro, and toss to combine. 

Yields 6-8 servings.

This dish had a decent, mild flavor: the sauce was light, the peanut flavor was minimal, and the cilantro added a bit of freshness.  While the flavor wasn't terribly exciting, the texture was quite interesting.  Perhaps Simon and Rachel can comment on this later, but the shredded cabbage mixed with the sauce almost reminded me of the texture of tuna salad.  It definitely added some intrigue to the dish.  
We happened to have an open bottle of white wine in the refrigerator, making it pretty easy to add in just 1/4 cup.  You could also use vegetable broth or sherry in place of the wine. 
  Ease of Preparation:     
It was a hassle to shred the cabbage using a hand grater, so I would recommend using a food processor with the grater attachment or even buying a bag of cole slaw cabbage instead of a head of cabbage.  But, the rest of the dish is quite easy, and I love being able to take advantage of already-boiling pasta water to wilt the cabbage.
Non-vegan friendliness:           
This dish wasn't very satisfying as a one-pot meal (after all, it has very little protein and left us hungry).  Even if it were served alongside seitan or some other protein, this wouldn't be one of my favorite Dinner is Vegan recipes.       

Monday, November 5, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Today is my five-year vegan anniversary!  Five years ago, while I was a freshman in college, my roommate and I decided to try out veganism together (remember that, Danielle?).  I was driven by a desire to reduce the impact of my eating habits on the environment, although any search on the Internet will offer numerous other compelling reasons to eat less meat.  Today, I am convinced that the most significant impact my diet has on the world comes not from my own consumption patterns, but rather from the conversations I have with others about veganism.

In order to celebrate my veganniversary, Simon and I made chocolate peanut butter cups!  Forget those leftover Reese's from Halloween that are lying all over our apartment: now we have delicious, homemade, vegan peanut butter cups, too! 

I love the ridges on the outside almost as much as the peanut butter on the inside.

Thank you, Dad, for passing along the original recipe.  We made several modifications, so here it is:    

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons "pretzel flour" (pretzels crushed up into a powder)
  • 1 - 12 ounce bag Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

First, line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners; set aside. 

Then, prepare the peanut butter filling.  Combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and pretzel flour in a small bowl.  Mix until smooth and well-incorporated.  Then divide the mixture into 12 even portions and roll each one into a ball.  Place the balls on a cutting board or plate and press them down with your fingers, forming flattened discs.  Place the plate in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Next, melt the chocolate.  You'll need a medium saucepan and a medium glass bowl that can rest on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler.  Place about two-thirds of the chocolate chips in the glass bowl and reserve the rest for later.  Then fill the saucepan about halfway with water and bring to a simmer.  Once the water comes to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and place the glass bowl with chocolate on top of the saucepan.  Stir the chocolate as it melts and becomes smooth.  Use a candy thermometer to ensure that the chocolate gets to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and then turn off the heat. 
Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set it down on a potholder or towel.  Add the remaining chocolate chips and stir constantly as the chocolate melts together.  Bring the temperature down to about 82 degrees; then return the bowl to the saucepan and bring the temperature back up to 90 degrees (turn the heat back on if you need to).

Pour or spoon enough hot chocolate into the bottom of each cupcake liner to cover the bottom.  Then remove the peanut butter filling from the refrigerator and lightly press one disc into each cup.  Spoon or pour the remaining chocolate evenly on top of the peanut butter filling.  Finally, tap the pan to remove air bubbles and level off the tops.  

Refrigerate the peanut butter cups for at least an hour, or until the chocolate is set. 

Yields 12 chocolate peanut butter cups.  Store the cups in the refrigerator and serve cold (so they don't melt).

The only problem with this recipe is that it only makes 12 peanut butter cups!  If I had my way, I'd eat one of these cups every day.  The chocolate has a nice snap when you bite into it, and the smooth filling inside really does taste like a Reese's. 
With only four ingredients, this recipe makes me wonder why Hershey's needs 13 ingredients for Reese's cups.   
  Ease of Preparation:    
The major downside to this recipe is that it is a bit complicated to carry out.  Using the double boiler prevents the chocolate from burning by allowing it to melt over moderate, consistent heat, so I do recommend that you use this method.  On the other hand, I'm not sure if the temperature alteration is absolutely necessary.  Tempering the chocolate gives it a shiny finish and creates the nice, snappy crispness that's ideal for candy; in practice, I'm sure these cups would have a similarly wonderful flavor if you simply melted the chocolate.  So, if you don't have a candy thermometer or just want to cut down on time, I'd still give this recipe a try.  
Non-vegan friendliness:           
These rich, smooth chocolate peanut butter cups will be sure to please anyone.  I do want to note, though, that these are no M&Ms: they melt in your hand, not your mouth.       

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gingerbread Pancakes

It's difficult to classify these pancakes as either dinner or dessert: they're moderately sweet and gingerbread-spiced while also being a traditional breakfast food.  So, turning breakfast-for-dinner on its head (dessert-for-dinner?!), here's a recipe for Gingerbread Pancakes. 

Dinner or dessert?
This isn't the most nutritious dish on this blog, but these pancakes do make a cold fall night just a little bit sweeter. 

Gingerbread Pancakes
  • 1.75 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 egg-equivalents (we used Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder)
  • 3/4 cup vegan sour cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

First, mix together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Form a well in the center of the mixture and set aside. 

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg-equivalents, sour cream, water, molasses, and oil.  Then pour this into the center of the flour mixture and stir until just moistened (there may be a few lumps).

To cook the pancakes, first heat a lightly-greased griddle or skillet over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, pour pancakes (1/4 cup of batter per pancake) onto the pan and spread the batter, if necessary.  Allow the pancakes to cook for about 2 minutes before flipping them over to the other side -- when it's time to flip the pancakes, they should look bubbly and the edges should be slightly dry.  Cook until the pancakes are golden brown on each side. 

Serve warm.  You can top them with your favorite pancake accompaniments, but they are also good on their own.  Yields 16 pancakes. 

If you're some who enjoys thick, cakey pancakes, you'll love these: they're fairly dense, rather than light and airy.  They have just the right amount of sweetness (considering we ate these pancakes at dinnertime), and they have a great fall flavor.  As I mentioned in the recipe, above, I didn't even need to top them with anything. 
We found vegan sour cream at our local grocery store (and even though the sour cream comes in a larger quantity than vegan cream cheese, it was cheaper!).  As I've noted before, egg-replacer powder might be difficult to find, but it keeps in your pantry.   
  Ease of Preparation:    
Although pancakes are generally a pretty quick and easy food to prepare, these pancakes were a bit more challenging because of the thickness of the batter.  It was pretty difficult to spread out the batter on the hot pan, and our pancakes certainly did not come out in perfect circles.  Next time, I might try reducing the sour cream to 1/2 cup and increasing the water to 1 cup to thin out the batter a bit.
Non-vegan friendliness:           
I'm not sure we'll make these pancakes for dinner again; but, as far as pancakes go, these take the cake in non-vegan friendliness.     

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spinach and Sweet Potato Pie

I'm a big fan of dinner pies.  It's always such a good feeling to puncture the crust and release the savory steam trapped inside.  Plus, dinner pies are a pretty low-maintenance way to prepare veggies in a filling way.  This Spinach and Sweet Potato Pie puts a Mexican spin on more traditional pot pies. 

The full dish.

While I've used standard pie crust to top other pot pies, we tried puff pastry on this one (with limited success, as I'll explain below). 

Spinach and Sweet Potato Pie
  • 1/2 pound puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
  • about 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (enough to cover the potatoes in the pot)
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 - 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • a dash of pepper
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and set out a casserole dish.  Take the puff pastry out of the freezer to thaw as you prepare the rest of the dish.

Then heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown.  Then add the jalapeno and garlic and cook for another minute.

Next, add the sweet potatoes and vegetable broth to the pot and stir.  Cover the pot and cook until the sweet potatoes are slightly softened.  Add the spinach and cook (uncovered) for another two minutes.  Then add the black beans, cumin, lime juice, pepper, nutritional yeast, and hot sauce and cook until the vegetable broth is mostly absorbed. Stir in the cilantro.

Finally, pour the mixture into the casserole dish and lay the pastry over the top, folding over any extra that would otherwise extend beyond the edge of the dish.  Bake for about 16 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Yields about 8 servings.

We enjoyed this dish; but, as Rachel put it, it was unexciting.  As I alluded to earlier, the puff pastry caused some problems: it didn't puff up, and it tasted a bit doughy despite the fact that the top had seemingly browned sufficiently.  Perhaps we could have cooked the dish a bit more without burning it, so I'd give that a try.  I would also use another can of beans next time, since the black beans were a bit lost among the spinach and sweet potato.  That said, the dish had a good, almost smoky flavor and I did enjoy eating it. 
The puff pastry was on sale (at least it had that going for it!).  On the whole, the ingredients list is pretty accessible, but unfortunately nutritional yeast has yet to hit mainstream market shelves.  We went to Whole Foods to find it.   
  Ease of Preparation:          
Considering this recipe requires both cooking and baking, it's pretty fast and easy to handle. 
Non-vegan friendliness:           
This is a filling dish and I wouldn't say it's missing any obvious animal-based ingredients.