I’ve adapted this recipe from an even easier version in Quick-Fix Vegetarian, where I use large green olives that are sold already stuffed with either almonds or jalapeños. The pre-stuffed olives are then wrapped in little squares of pie crust pastry and baked. These tasty bites look fussier to make than they are, and the texture and flavor combination is out-of-this-world delicious.
For my latest version, I use puff pastry instead of pie crust pastry for added richness and flaky goodness. The puff pastry is also easier to work with. I stuff the olives myself with various ingredients. Some of my favorite stuffing combinations are: sweetened dried cranberries with pecan pieces; jalapeño with smoked tofu; roasted garlic with sun-dried tomato; and (this time) golden raisins with walnut pieces. I’ve tried it with different kinds of olives, including kalamata, but the ones I like best for this are the large pitted green olives from the olive bar at the supermarket.
If you like the idea of stuffed olives and flaky pastry all in one bite, give these a try. And if you come up with more stuffing ideas for them, I’d love to hear about it.
Pastry-Wrapped Stuffed Olives
To save time, use bottled green olives that are already stuffed with almonds or jalapeños. Adapted from Quick-Fix Vegetarian.
25 to 30 large pitted green olives
25 to 30 golden raisins or sweetened dried cranberries
25 to 30 small walnut or pecan pieces (small enough to fit inside the olives)
1 sheet vegan puff pastry, thawed
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stuff each olive with 1 raisin and 1 walnut piece (or your stuffing of choice). Set aside.
2. Roll out the thawed pastry. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to divide the pastry into 25 to 30 (2-inch) squares.
3. Press one square of pastry around each olive to enclose completely, pinching to seal, and rolling between your palms to shape into smooth spheres. Place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or until ready to use. (You can cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, if you want to make them ahead.)
4. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning once, about halfway through. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This recipe is adapted from my book, Quick-Fix Vegetarian. As noted in the recipe headnote, this recipe is more of a guide than a gospel — add whatever vegetables you prefer, season it the way you like, and if you have time, it’s best to cook it a bit longer, the flavor only gets better.
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup frozen lima beans
2 cups chopped fresh zucchini (or frozen Italian vegetables)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16-ounce) can white beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (the amount of salt needed depends on the saltiness of your broth)
3 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or pesto)
Cooked rice or soup pasta (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cover and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then add the limas, frozen vegetables (or zucchini), tomatoes and their juices, beans, and broth. Add the basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes to an hour. A few minutes before serving time, stir in the spinach and parsley (or pesto). Taste to adjust seasonings. Stir in the rice or pasta if using.
A generous sprinkling of cilantro (or parsley, if you’re out of cilantro like I was) and a squeeze of lime added sparkle, with some cashews on top to add a bit of crunch. Well, I had planned to use cashews, but at the last minute I noticed some fried rice noodles in the cupboard, so I used them instead for a nice change. I thought the dish might need some extra heat, so I brought the Sriracha sauce to the table, but it turned out the red pepper flakes provided just the right amount, more as a background of heat rather than being in the forefront. (of course, if you don’t like heat, you can leave it out or use less.) Start to finish, this easy and versatile dinner was ready in about 15 minutes. Now that’s a quick fix!
Spicy Coconut Noodles
8 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cooked rice noodles or linguine
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
Lime wedges, for garnish
Crushed cashews, for garnish
The secret ingredient in this chili is: chunky salsa! Because salsa already contains bits of onions and peppers, using it eliminates the need for chopping veggies which keeps prep time down to a minimum. You can literally put this chili together in five minutes. (For this special Halloween version, you’ll need to add the time it takes to peel and roast the sweet potatoes.)
If you don’t have Quick-Fix Vegetarian(100% vegan), you may be surprised to learn that it contains an entire chapter of slow-cooker recipes. That’s because I think slow-cooker recipes are actually among the “quickest” recipes you can make. All it takes is a few minutes of prep time and then you can turn on your slow cooker and let it do all the work. (I use mine all the time.)
Black Bean Chili with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
The chili itself takes only minutes to assemble. The sweet potatoes will take additional time, but you can do that while the chili is simmering in the slow cooker. This recipe is an adaptation of Five Minute Slow Cooker Chili from Quick Fix Vegetarian.
1 (24-ounce) jar chunky tomato salsa
2 tablespoons chili powder, or more to taste
1/3 cup barbecue sauce or tomato ketchup
3 (16-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water, or more if needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups roasted sweet potatoes (see below)
1. Pour the salsa into a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in the chili powder and ketchup. Add the black beans, water, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
2. Cover and slow-cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW for 4 to 6 hours.
3. To serve, spoon the chili into shallow bowls and top each bowl with some of the roasted sweet potatoes. Alternately, you can add the roasted sweet potatoes to the entire pot of chili and stir gently to combine.
Serve 4 to 6
NOTE: To roast sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking pan. Peel two medium sweet potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch dice. Toss lightly with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking pan. Roast until tender inside and a little browned around the edges, about 20 minutes, turning once about halfway through.
I thought I’d share a recipe from my Summerfest demo – the Quick Red Bean Dal from Vegan Fire & Spice.
To show the versatility of the Quick Red Bean Dal, I first prepared it as a main dish over rice (see photo). I then spread some onto tortillas with some curried mashed potatoes made from any leftover potatoes (see photo of a potato dosadilla from Quick-Fix Vegetarian in my February 21 post. The combination is heavenly comfort food with an Indian twist.
The tortilla is then folded in half and toasted on both sides in a skillet. You can then serve the “dosadilla” on a plate with a knife and fork for a lunch or light supper, or you can cut it into wedges and enjoy them as fun snacks or appetizer “pick-up” food.
Here is the dal recipe and the dosadilla variation:
Quick Red Bean Dal
2 (15.5-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
Place the kidney beans in a bowl and mash with a potato ricer or stick blender. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the ginger, tomatoes, curry powder, coriander, cayenne, and salt to taste. Mix well.
Add the reserved beans and water and simmer until the mixture is hot and the flavors are well blended, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced scallions or onion
2 cups cooked mashed potatoes
2 teaspoons curry powder (or to taste)
4 whole wheat tortillas
Quick Red Bean Dal (recipe above)
Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the scallions and cook until softened. Add the potatoes, and curry powder and cook until well mixed and hot.
Spread the potato mixture evenly over each of the tortillas. Spread a thin layer of dal over the potato mixture. Fold the tortillas over and place them in a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-heat. Cook until lightly browned on both sides, turning once.
Keep them warm while you cook the remaining dosadillas. Serve them whole to be cut with a knife and fork, or cut them into wedges to eat out of hand.
I’m so happy to see that Oprah is going vegan—for 21 days, at least — in what she’s calling a “21-day cleanse as a way to jump-start an inner makeover.” In this plan, she has eliminated animal products from her diet and has invited her fans to join her. How cool is that?
Best of all, it actually seems like Oprah “gets” the reason why many of us are vegan. In her blog, she writes: “How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?”
I also think it’s great that Erik Marcus at Vegan.com is pitching in to help those who are taking Oprah’s vegan challenge and are new to veganism. During the next three weeks, his VegTalk podcast is going to offer daily guidance and support to new vegans. On the May 21st podcast, Erik recommends his three favorite cookbooks for new vegans and I’m honored to report that two of them were my own Quick-Fix Vegetarian and Vegan Planet, along with that other bastion of vegan recipes, Veganomicon.
Here’s hoping that Oprah’s 21-day vegan challenge is a catalyst for getting more and more people to go vegan and the beginning of a new era for veganism and all that it represents. What do you think?