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Chickpea Bacon Balls aka Smoky Chickpeas

My latest post on One Green Planet is a recipe for Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad with Mango and Avocado.  I strongly urge you to click on the link for the salad recipe.  You’ll be glad you did and, I can tell you that although you may go for the salad — you’ll stay for those smoky chickpeas.  They’re that good.  So good, in fact, that I just had to tell you more about them.

As I mention on OGP, I’ve had a thing for roasted chickpeas since my grandmother introduced me to them when I was a kid.  I couldn’t help but think that roasted chickpeas might be an ideal vehicle for the smoky flavors contained in the marinade I use to make vegan bacon.  I thought about calling them “chickpea bacon balls” but decided “smoky chickpeas” was the better choice.

The inspiration for the smoky chickpeas came as I was thinking about the best spinach salad I ever had at a restaurant in my hometown. It was garnished with crumbled bacon and topped with a creamy dijon dressing. For my own part, I tend to make mustard dressing only when I have an almost empty mustard jar (so I don’t waste any), which happened to coincide with my spinach salad memory and my acquiring some lovely watercress which I wanted to pair with mango and avocado. 

Suddenly the stars were aligning as I imagined how wonderful a smoky bacon flavor and a creamy mustard dressing would complement the watercress, mango, and avocado.  I’ve been making vegan bacon out of everything but the kitchen sink these days, from the usual tempeh and tofu, to kale, and sliced mushrooms.  Why not chickpeas?  After all, I add chickpeas to virtually all my salads anyway, but giving them a smoky-bacony flavor would really take them over the top.

Instead of a regular creamy mustard dressing I wanted to play up the flavors of the mango as well as the smoky chickpeas, so I added a bit of liquid smoke to the dressing along with some mango.  Oh yeah.

I predict that I will be making smoky chickpeas often.  They’d be great tossed with cooked grains and greens, or even on their own as a snack.  And I know for sure, they’re going to grace my salads from now on! 

Are you going to try them? (If you do, let me know what you think of them!)

Corned Seitan and Cabbage

This St. Patrick’s Day consider making the Corned Seitan and Cabbage from Vegan on the Cheap.  Not only is it a delicious way to celebrate the holiday, but the leftovers will reward you with the makings of the most amazing Reuben sandwiches this side of a New York deli. 
If you don’t already have Vegan on the Cheap, I do hope you’ll get it soon because the recipes in that book can save you some serious $$$ (and give you great meals in the bargain!) In the meantime, though, I’ll share the recipe for Corned Seitan and Cabbage so you can celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day in style. 
If you prefer some lighter fare to mark the day, try my Colcannon Quesadillas. You can find the recipe on OneGreenPlanet.  Mashed potatoes + spinach (or kale) + tortillas = an easy and delicious treat that can be enjoyed as is or served with picante sauce or a spicy mint chutney (for an Irish-Mexican-Indian fusion feast).

For more St. Patrick’s Day recipes, check out Party Vegan.  Here’s the menu from Party Vegan‘s St. Patrick’s Day chapter, along with the recipe for Colcannon Fritters.

Now here’s that seitan recipe….Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Corned Seitan and Cabbage
Look for pickling spices in the spice aisle in your supermarket. From Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson © 2010. 
Tip: For extra flavor, try replacing 1 to 2 tablespoons of the water in the seitan mixture with 1 to 2 tablespoons of pickle juice (from a jar of dill pickles).
1 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch slices or 1 cup baby carrots, halved lengthwise
1 small head cabbage, sliced, reserving 2 large leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cup water, or more as needed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse brown mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pickling spices
1 pound Yukon Gold or small red potatoes, halved or cut into chunks if large
1 cup vegetable broth
1.  Lightly oil the insert of a large oval slow cooker or spray it with cooking spray. Arrange the onion, garlic, carrots, and sliced cabbage in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  
2. In a large bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, onion powder, coriander, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add the water, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the mustard, and vinegar. Mix well, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry, then knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Shape the seitan to fit inside your cooker.
3.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons mustard and the sugar until well blended, then spread evenly on top of the seitan.  Sprinkle the pickling spices on top, pressing them with your hand to imbed them in the mustard mixture.
4. Carefully place the seitan in the cooker on top of the two reserved cabbage leaves. Arrange the potatoes around the seitan.  Pour the broth over the potatoes and season them with salt and pepper.   Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on Low until the seitan and vegetables are cooked, 7 to 8 hours.
5. To serve, remove the vegetables and seitan from the slow cooker.  Cut the seitan into slices and arrange them on a serving platter.  Surround with the vegetables and spoon the cooking liquid over all. Serve hot.
Note: This is best when made in a larger cooker to accommodate vegetables, but if you have a smaller 4-quart slow cooker, you can still make this recipe—just use half the amount of vegetables so you do not overfill the cooker.  Alternatively, you can cook the potatoes and cabbage in the oven or on top of the stove and just use the slow cooker to cook the seitan on top of the onion and cabbage leaves (these give added flavor to the seitan and help hold its share), adding the vegetable broth and garlic. 

Roasted Savoy Cabbage

In my self-appointed quest to prove that everything tastes better roasted, I’ve been roasting pans of vegetables in the oven on a regular basis.  We all know what roasting does for asparagus, squash, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, not to mention everyone’s favorite chip, kale.  But what about cabbage?
I often include chunks of cabbage in a pan of roasted vegetables and have always enjoyed the crispy edges most of all.  Last week I roasted 1-inch chunks of savoy cabbage (in a single layer), sprayed with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I roasted it at 400 degrees, turning it a couple times as it roasted to make sure all the surfaces got nicely browned.  Each time I removed the pan from the oven, I’d grab a couple pieces of crisping savoy, ostensibly to “test for doneness.”  By the time the thicker sections were tender, half of the pan had disappeared.  It was that good.
Yesterday I roasted another head of savoy.  This time, I removed the thickest part of the core and then sliced the cabbage like a loaf of bread into 1/4-inch thick slices and arranged the slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.  After spraying lightly with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper, I roasted it at 400 degrees for what was about 30 minutes total.  During that time, I rotated the pans a couple times and also flipped the round slices of cross-sectioned cabbage.  Some of the darker green leaves had disengaged from the rounds and were crisping up ahead of the thicker slices. These dark roasted savoy leaves were much like kale chips.  As I rotated the pans, I removed those crisped leaves, leaving the round slices to finish roasting.  As you can see in the photo above, the results were a nice variety of crispy dark green savoy chips and ribbons, as well as nicely roasted rounds of pale green cabbage. While enjoying the crispy leaves as a snack, I served the round savoy slices with dinner topped with a luscious lemon-cannelini sauce. Speaking of lemon-cannelini sauce….
My recipe for Roasted Vegetables with Lemon-Cannelini Sauce can be found on One Green Planet. Here’s a photo of those vegetables before roasting:
Here they are again after roasting:
And here is a serving of the roasted vegetables topped with the Lemon-Cannelini Sauce.  Be sure to check out the recipe on OneGreenPlanet.
A final note: The time and temperature at which you roast vegetables can vary with your own preferences.  When you roast at a higher temperature, it will require less cooking time, but you’ll need to be vigilant in watching so your vegetables don’t burn.  If you roast at a slightly lower temperature, the vegetables will take longer, but you won’t need to watch them as closely.  If I’m roasting something delicate like kale leaves, I generally roast them at 350 degrees.  For thicker vegetables, such as squash or Brussels sprouts, I usually go with a 400 or 425 degree oven.  In any case, you’ll want to turn the vegetables at least once during roasting so that they cook and brown evenly.

The Apple of My Pie…

…or, more correctly, the apple of my “not-pie” — this is one of the luscious baked apples we’ve been enjoying.  Northern Virginia is apple country and there are so many varieties to choose from, it’s hard to decide what to bring home from the various farmstands and orchards in the area.  This week we tried York and Cortland.  I’m sure they’d be wonderful in an actual pie, but I chose to use them in a more virtuous way by baking several of them in my slow cooker.  The flavor is as indulgent as apple pie — without the indulgence.  I’ll be making them again soon.  Next time, I think I’ll stuff them with a little granola to make them reminiscent of apple crisp.  Yum.

Three’s the Charm:  I have lots of good news to share today, I hardly know where to begin.  Let’s start with the amazing honor of having one of my recipes chosen as 1 of 4 “Recipes of the Year” on  My Singapore-Style Rice Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables was named “Quick Recipe of the Year.”  This recipe happens to be a personal favorite of mine.  Try it yourself and let me know what you think!

Also today, I found out that my Roasted Cauliflower Picatta recipe from my post on One Green Planet was chosen to appear on the Huffington Post! A huge thank you to all who voted for this recipe on One Green Planet.

Good news must come in threes, because, also today, Vegan on the Cheap got a nice shout out in the Philadelphia Daily News, along with my recipe for Tuscan White Bean Pizza appearing on

Exciting stuff! Not bad for a Thursday, huh?

Got Vegetables?

It’s been awhile since I posted a new recipe, but there’s a great one coming soon, I promise!  Besides, I’ve been so busy working on the manuscript for the new slow cooker book.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few photos of the amazing produce that has been gracing my kitchen of late.  The red tomatoes and day-glo yellow zucchini (yes, they’re zucchini, not the (pale) yellow summer squash) were part of the bounty we brought home with us from a trip to Lancaster County, Pa, home of some of the best-tasting vegetables I’ve had in awhile.  The cute little yellow pear-shaped tomatoes were a gift from our neighbor’s prolific garden — apparently WE got the tomato caterpillars, and THEY got all the tomatoes! 😉

We’ve been enjoying the various cherry tomatoes in salads and as a sweet snack, but I transformed many of the larger tomatoes into this fabulous baked sauce.

We had it over some long fusilli and I’m sure you could hear our moans of ecstasy for miles.

I adore virtually all vegetables, but artichokes are up near the top.  Whenever I find fresh artichokes at a reasonable price, I buy several and we eat them in one sitting.  Speaking of artichokes….

Help my recipe for Walnut-Crusted Artichokes make it to the Huffington Post. — Just “Like” it via the Facebook Like button on this page on One Green Planet. The recipe getting the highest # of Likes will be displayed on The Huffington Post! And while you’re at it, make some of these fabulous artichokes hearts (the recipe is on OneGreenPlanet).